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How do insect stings/bites harm you?

  1. Jul 11, 2004 #1
    Why is it that when you get stung by a bee or bitten by a mosquito that the area around it becomes inflamed? I remember hearing something on the discovery channel that snake venom was just harmful enzymes which digested your flesh, is that how all venom works?
     
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  3. Jul 11, 2004 #2

    chroot

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    I believe there are several kinds of venom, but I'm no expert and can't seem to find a good page on it.

    Venoms can do one of several things:

    1) Actually digest skeletal muscle with enzymes (necrosis).
    2) Attack nerves or neurons and cause paralysis.
    3) Simply cause pain
    4) Cause blood clots
    5) Attack the kidneys

    I'm such someone else with more knowledge can jump in with more.

    - Warren
     
  4. Jul 11, 2004 #3

    Monique

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    Bee stings and mosquito bites must have very different chemistry. A bee sting is supposed to hurt and injury. A musquito bite is supposed to nurture the musquito, but remain unnoticed.

    I don't know the details either, but when a mosquito penetrates the skin it injects its saliva that contains digestive enzymes and anticoagulants and probably also analgstetics. The body reacts to these foreign proteins by setting up an immune response, which causes the wheal.
     
  5. Jul 11, 2004 #4

    chroot

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    That's a good point Monique -- many people have very serious allergic reactions even to relatively friendly venoms like that of bees, which is only intended to cause pain.

    - Warren
     
  6. Jul 11, 2004 #5
    That is a list of what is in the sting. Still looking for the name of the venom to help me realise why it gives certain side affects.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  7. Jul 12, 2004 #6

    Moonbear

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    Wow, that's quite a concoction for one little bee! Interesting that there are compounds that seem to have opposing actions all in the same mix.

    What any bite or sting will have in common is a general inflammatory response to the skin being broken or a foreign object or proteins being inserted into the skin. The rest would of course depend on what else wound up being injected into the skin by the critter doing the stinging/biting.
     
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