Michiana families speaking out after kids bitten by buffalo gnats

NOW: Michiana families speaking out after kids bitten by buffalo gnats

GOSHEN, Ind. --- Health officials are encouraging people to get some fresh air and avoid self-isolating, but people might just want to be cautious before heading out on a walk or hike.

Michiana families want to spread awareness after their children ended up with bleeding bites from buffalo gnats, also known as black flies.

Those families had returned from hiking earlier this week and the children were left covered in bites, with no idea how or why.

“I mean you just don’t think a bug like that would do the damage or harm that it did to the children,” Valeria Treat said, mother.

Treat took her two daughters, ages two and four, out for a hike at Oxbow Park in Goshen several days ago.

“It was a nice day and we’re like we just want to play outside, you know, just have some fresh air,” Treat said.

Towards the end of the hike, Treat noticed bleeding bites all over her girls’ necklines.

“I instantly started freaking out,” Treat said. “I didn’t know what it was.”

Treat said her daughters did not even realize they had the bites at first.

“They only started to freak out when I started to freak out and panicking because I’m like my babies are bleeding from their head—what happened,” Treat questioned.

As a family who loves the outdoors, Treat had just never seen anything like it before.

“But that’s what worried me and scared me, was seeing the blood and there were so many bites,” Treat said.

Treat took to Facebook to spread awareness and share her experience, her post gained the attention of thousands of people.

That is when Brittany Deutsch chimed in, realizing the same thing happened to her own 14-month-old daughter.

“It’s kind of alarming when you have a little one just over one year old and you don’t know what’s going on,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch and her daughter were also out on a hike, but in South Bend when it happened.

Deutsch went straight to their pediatrician, using telemedicine to get help.

“And he definitely confirmed that it was bug bites not something else because there would be like blisters or scabbing,” Deutsch said.

As for how bad these black fly bites can get, Dr. Eugene Shubin with St. Joseph Health System, said the bites generally are not too bad unless a person has an allergic reaction, but the chance is relatively low someone could catch any diseases from it.

“The insect is not known to carry any major disease in our area of the world,” Dr. Eugene Shubin said, Pediatrician, St. Joseph Health System.

Time of day does make a difference, so it is recommended that people plan ahead for the next walk or hike.

“The black flies are known to usually attack people during daytime and more often in the morning and in the evening before sunset,” Dr. Shubin said.

While it might be difficult in the Michiana area, Dr. Shubin recommended avoiding running water as black flies are more common there.

People can also take safety precautions by covering up as much as possible, wearing hats and long sleeves.

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