An allergy specialist at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says household ants can trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms and he notes that families, especially those with young children who have allergies, should be aware that black ants can cause respiratory problems.
According to Dr Mehdi Mohammad Adeli, Senior Consultant of Paediatrics and Allergy and Immunology, Qatar is situated in the warm Eastern Arab Peninsula, so black ants are very common throughout the year. However, he said that most infestation occurs mostly during summer due to warmer weather. He added that black ants are particularly attracted to the scent of sugar and grease, so good housekeeping is often the key to keeping them out of the home.
Dr Adeli said 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. He said that it’s important to be proactive and diligent, quickly cleaning spills with soap or vinegar to help eliminate food odors.
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.’
Using pesticides with caution and professional pest control services can help eliminate ant colonies in the case of an infestation. Dr Adeli pointed out that it’s important to be cautious when using chemicals, especially if there are young children or pets in the home. He explained that children are often the target of black ants because they spend much of their time playing on the ground and are often shoeless.
While severe allergic reactions from black ant bites are not common, they are not unheard of and symptoms of black ant bites can vary widely between mild allergic reactions to 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.’
Black ant bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may last from a few hours to a few days. It’s essential to seek medical attention if the child has a pronounced local reaction such as severe swelling, redness, pain or an infection. Babies and young children may be more affected by ant bites than adults and it usually is not necessary to seek medical attention for mild reactions.
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.’
To help prevent ant bites, Dr Adeli recommends for children to avoid going barefoot, cover exposed skin with long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellent creams.
For more information about the services on offer at HMC, visit hamad.qa.