Insect bite of the year:

Mosquitoes in "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Lilo and Stitch"

Insect bites can affect the skin in a variety of ways: itchy red bumps from fleas, draining black nodules from spiders, even the myriad of symptoms of Lyme disease from deer ticks. Usually, mosquito bites qualify only as pesky, scratchable bumps with little further concern. They can be annoying, according to Candace Bergen in "Sweet Home Alabama." As the snobby mayor of New York, her arrival in a 'Bama backwater is signaled by a mosquito bite to the neck. Her response crystallizes her North-South attitude: "One down, seven million to go!" Sounds like she should mix some bug spray into her Big City perfume.
In "Lilo and Stitch," proof that not everything natural is healthy:
Compared to this fellow, Bergen seems to have it easy. For those especially reactive to bites, the swollen, itchy lumps can be intolerable. In "Lilo and Stitch," the Disney fable about a rowdy extraterrestrial who is adopted by a dysfunctional Hawaiian family (yes, you read it correctly), Stitch is pursued by the alien bureaucrat Pleakley (voice by Kevin McDonald). A running joke in the film is that alien races allow humans to remain on earth to promote the survival of mosquitoes, a supposedly intergalactic endangered species. Never having encountered the pests before, the naive Pleakley allows them to freely bite. Soon he is covered with deforming nodules, Elephant Man-style. For severe allergic reaction to bites, prescription strength cortisone, or even cortisone pills can counteract the symptoms. Controlling mosquito populations is also crucial to tackle this alien in our midst.
In 2002, mosquito bites took on a more sinister role, as a way of transmitting West Nile virus. Primarily an infection of birds, mosquitoes can carry it to humans, causing fever, muscle weakness, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), and even death. The elderly and those with suppressed immune systems are at greatest risk, but eradication of mosquitoes should be pursued with greater urgency. Pesticides, reduction in stagnant water pools, and repellents containing DEET all can minimize risk. Weddings in Alabama and alien abduction are not considered specific risk factors.
Insect Bite, Runner up:
The Spider in "Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets."

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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