Fri, Sep 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Beware the attack of the chiggers at your next barbeque

STAFF WRITER

A doctor at the Tzu Chi General Hospital yesterday warned people who plan to hold picnics or barbecues during the Mid-Autumn Festival to take precautions against the chigger -- a mite larva that lives in low, damp grasslands and other outdoor areas and which can make life very uncomfortable for campers, picnickers and hikers.

The bites of a chigger can result in high fever, vascular inflammation and, in extreme cases, acute apoplexy.

Wang Li-hsin (王立信), deputy director of the Tzu Chi General Hospital, said yesterday that a man in his 50s was recently admitted with high fever after barbecuing for several hours beside a brook.

After days of fever, the man lapsed into apoplexy and coma and his legs were paralyzed.

Wang said that the patient was believed to have been bitten by chiggers. He said that chiggers bite into pores of the skin and produce small, reddish welts accompanied by intense itching.

"There are several symptoms of chigger bites and chiggers are so small that they can't be seen without a magnifying glass," he said.

"With barbecuing becoming a regular part of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, I suggest that people do not do so on remote grasslands or riverbanks where chiggers love to gather," he said.

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