The Bugs of Burning Man: Parasite hell in the desert

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The Bugs of Burning Man: Parasite hell in the desert


A campy science fiction film called “THEM” depicts hordes deadly insectoids that appear in the Nevada desert with the intent of mass human attack.

Now it has happened for real.

Scabies, Head Lice that won’t die, Crabs and skin sucking stink bugs are on hand to greet the attendees of the 2015 Burning Man event.

Take one part unwashed masses, two parts touchy feely and a trillion little parasites and you have a whole new way to spend your hundreds of Burning Man dollars.

With unmitigated sex and perfect breeding weather, the crotch crabs, scabies and lice could not be happier.  Some people have already had to leave for medical treatment. Scientists have found that the modern habit of putting your heads together, to take selfies, is accelerating the infection of these bugs from one person to the next.

The furry boots and vests, that many wear, have turned into lice farms.

Scabies are highly infectious and can be passed to anybody simply by rubbing against them, while dancing, or passing a person with exposed skin, in a crowd. Due to the younger group of kids at this year’s event, many will not even realize they have scabies because they may not have, previously, encountered the horrific effect of being eaten alive by these thousands of microscopic terrors that have burrowed under your skin.

There have never been this many bugs at Burning Man. No infestation has ever even come close. Some want to cook them. Some want to use them to see if they can infect the yuppies and the hipsters, who everyone else hates at the festival.

A publication filed a freedom of information act (FOIA) request and acquired the documents that showed that the FBI was going to have many undercover burning man goths and that some sort of “experiment” was going to be conducted. Are the bugs the experiment?

While many go to Burning Man for the free and easy sex without commitment, they may want to rethink that plan. This year, person to person contact should be avoided. If you do play, you may pay, with a long term commitment to the parasite doctor.

If you are on the Playa, or recently left the Playa, and you feel an itch, be very, very concerned. All but the giant skin piercing stink bugs are pretty much invisible to the eye.

 Many people take mind altering drugs and stare at the neon at Burning Man while they get high. In the past, some have said the drugs made people think that “their skin was crawling”. This year, they might be right!  

Let us take a look at a few of the top 2015 infestation horrors from the Playa:


Stink Bugs of Despair


Super Head Lice that will not die

Burning Man Super head lice have become resistant to standard over-the-counter treatments. A new study indicates that parents will likely have a lot more difficulty getting rid of the pesky bugs if your friends come home from Burning Man frantically itching their heads.

New head lice research suggests that the bugs have developed a “high level” of tolerance against the chemical treatments used to remove them from hair follicles. A study conducted at the Southern Illinois University found that super head lice have developed in 24 states and can withstand over-the-counter treatments currently recommended by pediatricians and schools.

 “We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the United States,” Doctor Kyong Yoon of the Southern Illinois University, said. “What we found was that 104 out of the 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids.”

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Pyrethroids are reportedly part of a family of insecticides which are widely used both indoors and out to control mosquitoes and other varieties of insects. This classification of insecticides also includes permethrin – the active ingredient in some of the most non-prescription lice treatments.

According to Dr. Yoon, the super head lice problem has been moving towards a widespread problem for many years. The first pyrethroid-resistant lice cases presented during the late 1990s in Israel. Yoon was among the first to address the issue in the United States.

“I was working on insecticide metabolism in a potato beetle when my mentor, John Clark, suggested I look into the resurgence of head lice,” Yoon recalled. “I asked him in what country and was surprised when he said the US.”

Yoon began testing the lice for a series of genetic mutations known as “kdr.” The acronym stands for “knock-down resistance. The trio of mutations were reportedly first discovered during the late 1970s in common house flies. Farmers of the time started using pyrethroids rather than DDT to combat the problem.

Dr. Yoon found that many of the super head lice did possess the kdr genetic mutations. The mutation reportedly affects the nervous systems of insects and desensitizes them to pyrethroids.

Genital crabs

Pubic lice are parasitic insects that typically infest the hair surrounding the genital areas. They can attach to coarse body hair on the arms, legs, armpits, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Also referred to as “crabs” because of their pincers, these lice can cause itchiness and irritation in those infected. Genital crabs are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections with more than 3 million cases occurring in the United States every year. Genital crabs can be treated with prescription lotions or shampoos as well as over-the-counter remedies.

Catching Crabs

Type of STD Infection: Parasite

Modes of Transmission: Pubic crabs are easily transmitted between sexual partners. Any close contact with an infected person can result in you contracting the parasite. If your sexual partner is infested with pubic crabs, you have a 95% chance of becoming infected yourself. Pubic lice can also be transmitted within families as the lice can live for short periods of time on bedding, towels, and clothing. However, this type of transmission is unlikely, as crabs can only live for 48 hours without human blood. Genital crabs are common in cramped quarters and can run rampant in hostels, military bases, and anywhere where large numbers of people are in close contact with one another.

Symptoms of Crabs

Symptoms: Crabs symptoms include itching and irritation in the genital area. Since crabs live off of your blood, you may find bluish spots where the crabs have been feeding. Dark spots may also be visible on your skin or underwear. These spots are the crab feces and indicate a definite infestation. Additionally, you may be able to see genital crabs crawling around in your pubic hair or find nits (eggs) close to the bottom of the pubic hair shaft. It is also common to experience a slight fever and feel irritated and run down when you have a pubic lice infestation.




Scabies – the worst of the bunch

Scabies, known as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei.[1][2] The most common symptoms are severe itchiness and a pimple-like rash. Occasionally tiny burrows may be seen in the skin. When first infected, usually two to six weeks are required before symptoms occur. If a person develops a second infection later in life, symptoms may begin within a day. These symptoms can present across most of the body or just certain areas such as the wrists, between fingers, or along the waistline. The head may be affected, however this is typically only in young children, and not in older children or adults. The itch is often worse at night. Scratching may cause skin breakdown and an additional bacterial infection of the skin.[3]

Scabies is caused by infection with the female mite Sarcoptes scabiei.[1] The mites burrow into the skin to live and deposit eggs.[1] The symptoms of scabies are due to an allergic reaction to the mites.[3] Often only between ten and fifteen mites are involved in an infection.[3] Scabies is most often spread during a relatively long period of direct skin contact with an infected person such as that which may occur during sex.[1] Spreads of disease may occur even if the person has not developed symptoms yet.[4] Crowded living conditions such as those found in child care facilities, group homes, and prisons increase the risk of spread.[1] Areas with a lack of access to water also have higher rates of disease.[5] Crusted scabies is a more severe form of the disease. It typically only occurs in those with a poor immune system and people may have millions of mites, making them much more contagious. In these cases spread of infection may occur during brief contact or via contaminated objects. The mite is very small and usually not directly visible. Diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms.[6]

A number of medications are available to treat those infected, including: permethrin, crotamiton and lindane creams and ivermectin pills.[7] Sexual contacts within the last month and people who live in the same house should also be treated at the same time. Bedding and clothing used in the last three days should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. As the mite does not live for more than three days away from human skin more washing is not needed. Symptoms may continue for two to four weeks following treatment. If after this time there continues to be symptoms retreatment may be needed.[4]

Scabies is one of the three most common skin disorders in children, along with ringworm and bacterial skin infections.[8] As of 2010 it affects approximately 100 million people (1.5% of the world population) and is equally common in both sexes.[9] The young and the old are more commonly affected. It also occurs more commonly in the developing world and tropical climates.[6] The word scabies is from Latin: scabere, “to scratch”.[10] Other animals do not spread human scabies.[1] Infections in other animals are typically caused by slightly different but related mites and is known as sarcoptic mange.[11]




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