Emma Newman staff writer
Students participating in a sport or physical education are being bitten by mosquitoes and potentially fleas, partially because of the construction and weather conditions.
According to Coleen Davenport, the school’s sports nurse, around 150 students have visited her office this year with various bug bites to obtain anti-itch ointment and to show how many bug bites they have. Davenport was first made aware of the prevalence of bug bites because of the PE students.
“We started finding out about it because PE students and their parents started sending photos, and the only thing they could think of was that it was happening here because they didn’t have animals at home,” Davenport said.
Since then, Davenport has seen at least four to five students per day in her office suffering from these bug bites, with results ranging from mild bites to very severe bites. However, the director of the district’s athletic department, Tim Ellis, was unaware of this issue.
This year, Davenport believes that fleas could be the culprit for many of the bites. This is due to the location of the bug bites on the lower area near the “sock line,” which is a typical spot for fleas to bite.
“We can’t actually see [the fleas], so we are not 100 percent sure that that’s what it is, but a lot of them are mosquito bites,” Davenport said.
Sophomore Ella Revivo, who plays on the girl’s soccer team, has experienced “huge” bug bites as a result of an allergic reaction to them. Three months ago, her bites swelled to the point where she had to stop playing her sport.
“They’re so big Colleen [sic] told me that it was one of the biggest she’s ever seen and that I shouldn’t play soccer until the swelling went down,” Revivo said via text.
According to a poll administered by Highlights, about 71 percent of the respondents had bug bites. While some of the bug bites existed in small numbers, others came in clusters. Freshman Negin Nilsefat, who participates in a sport, had experienced “more than 20” bug bites since school started. According to the survey, his bug bites were severe and they involve itchiness and swelling.
Freshman Misha Bemhamou has also experienced the discomfort of bug bites. Benhamou said he has experienced 106 bug bites since the start of the school year, which has led to his discontempt with bugs.
Even Davenport had bug bites until she started using bug spray, and for the first six weeks of school, she was “bit from [her] knees down [with] hundreds of them.”
This problem was not as severe in previous years. This year, lots of young and baby mosquitoes have been flying into the building, with “way more” than anyone had seen in previous years.
Davenport is not positive about what is causing the bugs to be so populous, but the conditions at school may be to blame.
“The heat, the construction [and] the rain from the previous seasons are not good for bugs,” Davenport said.
To combat this issue, the executive director of construction and facilities Ken Haas confirmed that companies have been hired to try to eliminate “pests” from the district. In addition, Davenport recommends the use of anti-bug products to avoid dealing with the negative effects of bug bites.
“We’ve been telling the kids to either use the anti-itch creams or…environmentally friendly bug sprays,” Davenport said. “[They should wear] long pants and long sleeve shirts, really just covering up your skin. That’s your best bet.”