This state is in quarantine because of the fire ants. Could yours be next?
Summer is the best time to meet all kinds of nasty parasites, from mosquitoes to snakes and cicadas. However, this year, parts of the United States are home to an influx of an unexpected intruder: fire ants. In fact, the infestation has grown so severe that a state has had to quarantine itself and experts warn more may follow. Read on to find out if your condition is affected and what to do to lower your risk of infestation.
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the Southwest Record reports that 43 counties in Arkansas are now subject to federal quarantine regulations due to the spread of fire ants in the state, with four new counties added to the quarantine zone in the last week alone.
To limit the spread of fire ants – both in counties of Arkansas outside the quarantine zone and in other states – the state is now limiting the transport of materials, including dirt, sod, etc. nursery stock with soil or potting soil, baled straw that has been stored in contact with soil, baled hay that has been stored in contact with soil or used earthmoving equipment.
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It’s not Arkansas alone that is going into quarantine to limit the spread of these pests and their painful bites.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in addition to Arkansas, the list of states with areas under federal quarantine now includes Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico , North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina and Virginia. Black and red fire ants, which were likely brought to the United States via soil used as stabilization material on freighters that were launched from destinations in South America in 1918 and the 1930s, respectively. Today, there are five times more fire ants per acre on American soil than in South America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, fire ant bites most often result in itching and localized swelling that goes away within an hour and results in a pus-filled blister that can heal.
However, the USDA reports that, in rare cases, fire ant bites can lead to anaphylactic shock, a rare allergic reaction that can lead to difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or even death.
If you come across fire ants, taking specific steps can help reduce your risk of a serious reaction. The CDC recommends brushing ants off if you notice them on you and taking antihistamines if you’ve been bitten.
If you’ve been bitten by fire ants and have difficulty breathing, extreme swelling, heavy sweating, nausea, severe chest pain, or slurred speech, go to the emergency room right away.
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