Leeches

Leeches are blood-sucking worms that live in damp places and become attached people and animals. After biting the host they feed for up to two hours, consuming between two and ten times their own weight before releasing their grip.
An anaesthetic in the saliva of leeches results in that bites that are initially painless.

Prevention

  • Use insecticide around socks and shoes, wearing fine weave.
  • Wear socks with no seam holes at the ankles, sealing trouser legs to boots with tight socks, gaiters or elastic bandages.

Symptoms

  • Slow bleeding for a long time (ten minutes up to 5 hours).
  • Itchiness after about 12 hours.
  • Allergic reactions ranging from red, swollen welts to anaphylactic shock.

Treatment

  • Remove leech
    • Do NOT pull leech off  - this may tear the skin or leave mouth parts in the wound which can cause infection or ulceration.
    • Apply heat (lighted match or smouldering twig) or sprinkle with salt
  • Aid blood clotting by applying a band aid.
  • Relieve itch with calamine lotion, tea tree oil or a cream containing lignocaine.
  • If there is an allergic response, seek immediate medical help
  • If the victim has a swollen throat, sucking ice may alleviate symptoms until they can obtain medical treatment. Artificial respiration should be administered if the patient stops breathing.

If you are allergic, carry anti-histamines or an EpiPen (portable adrenaline injector).