An allergy specialist at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says household ants can trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms. He notes, families, especially those with young children who have allergies, should be aware that black ants can cause respiratory problems.
“Qatar is situated in the warm eastern Arabian peninsula, so black ants are very common throughout the year. However, most infestation occurs mostly during the summer due to warmer weather. Black ants are particularly attracted to the scent of sugar and grease, so good housekeeping is often the key to keeping them out of home,” said Dr Mehdi Mohamed Adeli, senior consultant, paediatrics, allergy and immunology.
Dr Adeli notes that proper food storage and regular and thorough cleaning of the kitchen and other areas of the home where food is prepared or consumed will help deter ants. According to him, it is important to be proactive and diligent, quickly cleaning spills with soap or vinegar to help eliminate food odours.
“These ants are attracted by the smell of food so it is important to keep the kitchen clean, to cover cooked food properly, and to store sugary foods in airtight containers,” said Dr Adeli.
Dr Adeli advises using pesticides with caution and professional pest control services can help eliminate ant colonies in case of an infestation. It is important to be cautious when using chemicals, especially if there are young children or pets at home. Dr Adeli explained that children are often the target of black ants because they spend much of their time playing on the ground and shoeless.
While severe allergic reactions from black ant bites are not common, they are not unheard of. According to Dr Adeli, the symptoms of black ant bites can vary widely between mild allergic reactions and full-blown anaphylactic shock.
“When a case involving a black ant bite is referred to us, we watch out for anaphylactic shock signs and symptoms. These symptoms will usually appear within a few seconds to minutes after a black ant bite. While these symptoms might not be serious or life-threatening, it is important to treat the patient promptly, especially if they experience breathing difficulties,” said Dr Adeli.
“If there is not a severe allergic reaction, home-based remedies such as applying a cold compress over the area for 20 minutes to prevent itching is recommended. Taking an antihistamine is also a good option, especially if there is minor pain, itching, or a localised allergic reaction,” suggested Dr Adeli.
To help prevent ant bites, Dr Adeli recommends children avoid going barefoot, cover exposed skin using long sleeves, pants, and a hat, and use insect repellent creams.
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