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Help with strange bite marks


I am asking for your help. I need to find an expert in insect bites and animal bites to help solve a mystery bite my daughter received.

Here’s what happened: On Tuesday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m., Pumpkin was playing with her sand-and-water table outside under the supervision of her grandmother. Then, my mother went into the house to get Pumpkin’s sippy cup, leaving her outside alone. To get the cup, she had to walk through our kitchen, past the dining room and into the living room, all together about 40 feet from the backyard. My mom is 75 and doesn’t move like a teenager, and she had to scan the living room before she spied the sippy. Even so, she estimates she was inside for about a minute. I would probably put that closer to two or three minutes because time is so subjective when you are busy.

She went back outside and didn’t notice anything wrong. Pumpkin was still standing in the same spot by the sand table. Shortly after, Pumpkin started to get bored and hurl sand, so it was time to go inside. That’s when my mother noticed she was bleeding on her neck. I was inside the house working in my home office that afternoon and came running when my mother called.

I examined Pumpkin’s neck and saw what looked like a puncture bite, but there was a lot of blood, not just coming from the wound but also pooling under the skin. I washed it off and kept dabbing it and getting more blood. Then, we noticed a puddle of blood in her ear. I wiped that away and spotted a smaller puncture wound in the ear that was bleeding copiously. A whole wet paper towel that I used to dab the wound was soon dotted with a dozen quarter-size blossoms of red.

The whole while, Pumpkin seemed OK. She didn’t seem to be in pain. The punctures didn’t swell. In fact, they didn’t seem like bug bites at all, which usually get a raised bump and become itchy.

It was odd. Since there was that period when Pumpkin was unattended, I called my doctor’s office and talked to the nurse. She said to wash up the wounds and apply pressure and ice, but didn’t seem too worried. I did that (or tried to, Pumpkin wasn’t keen on the ice), but after considering the odd nature of the wounds, I followed up with a call to the doctor’s service. When the doctor returned my call, she was quickly dismissive, suggesting that the bites were from gnats. She said gnats are active this time of year and like to bite kids on the neck and hairline.

That sounded right, but later that night when I went online to read about gnat bites, all the health articles talked about swelling and itching. There was no mention of bleeding. In fact, when I typed “bleeding bite” into Google, the only returns I got referred to animal bites. All the insect bite pages talked about swelling, itching and allergic reactions. Reflecting on my own decades of insect bites, I couldn’t remember a single instance when I bled from a bite.

Now I got really worried, thinking about whether it could have been an animal. I couldn’t imagine a large animal like a squirrel or a cat attacking and going unnoticed in that short span of time. That left the worst possibility: A bat. I’ll never forget the death of a 13-year-old Greenwich, Conn., girl of rabies that happened when I was working at The Advocate and Greenwich Time in the late 1990s. She didn’t even know she had been bitten by a bat, but later the family remembered one had been in the house.

So, on Wednesday, my husband took off work and took my daughter to the pediatrician’s office to talk this over. The doctor did not believe a bat could have bitten my daughter. She said that it was probably a bug. She seemed to think the bleeding may have come from scratching. The only problem with that logical idea is that the bites don’t itch. There has been zero scratching.

Today I called the Westchester County Department of Health and talked to a nurse. She said the county does not administer the rabies vaccine unless an animal has been visually spotted. However, she found the bleeding odd and said that I was free to get the vaccine ordered by my doctor.

I am in a tough spot here now. Logically, it seems unlikely that in a 3-minute span of time a rabid bat swooped down and landed on my daughter, disappearing before my mom could see it.

I wish I could just be content with dismissing this possibility, but here are my problems:

- The marks do not itch, as is typical with bug bites. They did not swell or look inflamed.
– Nowhere in all my Googling have I found a single reference to a bleeding insect bite. Everything talks about itching and allergies.
– The mental picture I have is of a bat landing on my daughter and using a claw to hang on, hence causing the mark inside the ear. The scenario fits the wounds, even if it seems unlikely.
– If I do nothing and this turns out to be a 1 in a million freak occurrence, Pumpkin dies. That’s it. There is no cure once symptoms start.

I would feel better if I could talk to someone who is an expert in rabies, insect bites and bats. I would love to have someone say to me, “Oh yes, this kind of bug always causes copious bleeding and these kinds of marks.”

I wish I could file this away in a drawer and forget it, but the drawer keeps popping open. It’s a mystery. We do not know what happened to Pumpkin in those couple of minutes. She was alone in what is essentially a wooded environment. My patio literally abuts a stand of woods. I joke that it’s like living in a state park. (This is not a good thing, by the way.) If the bites were swollen and itchy, I would not be writing this because that fits my experience of bug bites. I just don’t know what to make of the odd mark on her neck, which is kind of oblong because of the blood that collected under the skin. Then there is the prick mark inside her ear that looks nothing like the mark on the neck. How could an insect make two such different wounds? I keep thinking of the bat with its claw in one spot and its teeth in another…

Maybe I’m nuts. I hope I am. But maybe I should be worried. I need to talk to an expert. I am hoping readers of this blog can help me find one. I know I’ll be on the phone tomorrow trying to find one, too.

Thank you.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2007 at 11:59 pm by Julie Moran Alterio. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Health & safety, Parenting

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111 Responses to “Help with strange bite marks”

  1. Julie Moran Alterio

    I sent this to some friends and acquaintances I’ve met as a reporter, including some doctors I interviewed for a recent package we did on the cost of health.

    I heard back from a few people.

    This is from Dr. Gerald Anzalone, a chiropractor who isn’t an expert in this area, but was concerned:

    “I actually had the same thought and concern as you as I was reading your blog entry—- the possibility of a bat bite—- even before I got to the point in your entry where you expressed the same concern over this possibility. I’ve never known gnat bites to cause bleeding.

    I would contact an infectious disease specialist at Westchester Medical Center to follow up on this.”

    Another e-mail, from dentist Dr. Marvin A. Fier, suggested this:

    “I just read your post. I wish I give you a definitive answer, but I can’t. Is there any test that could be done on your daughter to determine if she was in fact exposed to rabies? Did you take any pictures of the bites? If so, perhaps sending the images to one of the teaching hospitals in NYC could hook you up with a specialist in the field who may have seen this before. I’d also suggest contacting some of the docs at these teaching hospitals, eg. Mt. Sinai, Cornell, NY Presbyterian, etc…. Maybe they’ve seen this before.”

    I have a story to finish this morning before I can dive into these calls, but then I will pursue both of these ideas.

    I didn’t mention this in the original post, but I’m wondering: If this were your kid, what would you do?

  2. Doreen B

    I doubt very much it is a bat bite. For the simple reason that a bat would have freaked her out, the way they swoop down, and she wouldn’t have been standing in the same spot calmly when your mom came back outside.

    I got bitten by a big black beetle one time and it bled a lot – but it also burned and itched and turned all red. So that probably wasn’t it either. The pictures are a good idea. Hope it all turns out OK.

  3. Alicia Pascale

    Were there any sticks in the sand table? She could have pick out a stick and tried to throw it out and accidentaly puncture her skin on the back of her neck and ear in that type of arm movement. Does she favor the arm on the same side of her ear wound? Don’t feel that you’re overreacting. I would freak out too. Sending pictures to a specialist sounds like a good idea.

  4. Vinny

    I would doubt it was a bat, for the same reason that Julie mentioned- even if the approach was from behind, it would certainly have sent Pumpkin into a tizzy.

    As for WHAT may have made the bite, I have no idea. Take pictures now, and look to send them to a teaching hospital, an insect specialist, or the CDC. They may have some ideas. I tried finding some resources for you, but no one has a site where they say “send a picture- we’ll take a look”. I guess you’d have to call them and ask.

    Good luck.

  5. Alicia Pascale

    Jules, read this. I got it from http://www.health24.com. It says that the first time someone is biten by any particular insect, you do not develop a reaction. The body needs to create the antibodies againts that particualr venom or saliva and only then after being exposed several times do you start a reaction.

    In this article
    Insect bites as a problem in children
    What are the symptoms and signs of insect bites?
    How are insect bites treated?
    How can you prevent insect bites?
    When to call your doctor
    Insect bites as a problem in children


    Insect bites are commonly caused by mites, spiders, fleas, mosquitoes, ants, lice and bedbugs
    The usual reaction is an itchy lump in the area of the bite
    Treatment is aimed at relieving the itching
    Call your doctor if your child is having difficulty breathing or swallowing after being bitten, has an obviously infected bite, or there are multiple bites around the eyes causing marked swelling
    Insect bites are a common problem in children and may be difficult to diagnose. The main classes of insects which cause bites are:

    Mites, spiders and ticks
    Mosquitoes and flies
    Ants, bees and wasps
    Bedbugs, kissing bugs
    What are the symptoms and signs of insect bites?

    The type of reaction which occurs after an insect bite depends on the species of insect, the age of the child and whether or not the child has been exposed to the insect before.

    Insects not only bite, but also cause contact derm

    Most reactions to insect bites depend on a reaction to the saliva or venom. When someone is bitten for the first time, no reaction develops. But after repeated bites, sensitivity develops. This produces an itchy bump around 24 hours after the bite and is the most common reaction seen in young children.

    With prolonged, repeated exposure to the insect, a wheal develops immediately after the bite and an itchy bump forms 24 hours later. This combination of reactions is seen most often in older children.

  6. Steve C.

    unless you she develops a reaction i wouldnt worry too much. if it were a tick it would still be there. she could have been poked in the neck by a thorn or stick in the sand or something, and a single puncture wouldnt be a bat. first off bats around here eat mosquitos. they wont bite a human, unless by mistake or through anger. lastly they are nocturnal. very rarely will you see them in broad daylight. yes once in awhile u will see the odd one but if you notice it would be bright out.

    how big was the puncture? sand flee maybe? or maybe pumpkin poked her ear with a toy.

    lastly check for ear wigs.. which i doubt happened…

    hope all is well now..

  7. Steve C.

    ugh. sorry for the scattered post. my fingers sometimes dont keep pace with the brain.

  8. Mary Dolan

    Julie: When my children were little, someone passed along this advice about reading advice on raising children:
    The best thing to read is your child.
    From your “read” of Pumpkin, she sounds fine. I’m sure she would have reacted had she been bitten by a bat.

  9. Julie

    In googling this morning trying to find the cause of my 3yo son’s strange bites all over the back of his neck and head, I found the website here.

    Last night, after being out when the bugs were, he came in with these bumbs on the back of his head, some of them had dried blood, some of them were oozing. They oozed to the point of producing a thick temporary black “scab” (dried blood) but ran no further, red and raised, but he didn’t appear to be in much pain or itch, and in fact says “I’m ok, MOM!”

    From my reading and this website, I am thinking they are gnats, as we saw swarms of them last night. The weird thing is the blood, as you mentioned, but now I’m not all that concerned, though I might just put a call into the doc tomorrow, I’m pretty confident that’s what they are.

    My 2yo son has the same thing, though not nearly the number my 3yo does. The 2yo’s are concentrated mainly around his ear.

    Hope this helps!

  10. Laura

    Simple answer! These are what people call “Mayfly” bites. Little chunk of skin missing with blood, no itching or swelling. Mayflies. They go away in June. I’m not sure if DEET works on them but these are so common her (Eastern MA) that I’m surprised no one mentioned them.

  11. Steve C.

    black flies? the New hampshire state bird? ;-]

    but laura u r correct it is most definitely bug bites.
    anything else would have freaked pumpkin out.

  12. Daniel Pomerantz MD

    I wish I could be more specifically helpful, but your post did provoke a few thoughts. Most insects that feed on blood do inject some sort of anticoagulant into the bite to promote their feeding, by delaying clotting hence more bleeding. These proteins usually produce an intense allergic reaction—itching, swelling, etc., but most allergic reactions are acquired after some exposure to the inciting antigen. Often with the first exposure there is no or very little reaction. I hope this is helpful. The expert you are looking for would be a medical entomologist, unfortunately I don’t know one.

  13. Alicia Pascale

    When Nadia was almost 2 years old, she was bitten on the neck by Mayflies. This was mid to end of May and begining of June. She did have a reaction though, and later she got an infection from the scratching.

  14. Dave

    Sounds like it could be a horsefly bite

    (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsefly)

    , but horsefly bites themselves are quite painful and you know when you are bit; however, the bites don’t continue to hurt after the initial chomp.

  15. Kim

    Recently, my 19 month old son was in the backyard playing and I noticed blood coming from the side of his head. I cleaned it up and the result was a tiny pinprick surrounded by redness. A week later it is now a small bump with a pinprick in the middle. I am assuming a bug bite because he was not phased in the least. Then, one week later the same thing happened on the back of his neck. Bleeding and looking like a pinprick. Again, I am assuming it is a bug bite. It is the only logical conclusion. However, I have never heard of a bug bite that bleeds. I am going to follow-up with a call to my doctor to see if they heard of this.

  16. Helen

    I’ve been reading the post regarding “bites” that children seem to be getting. I am a 54 year old woman and I live in upstate ny and for the past 3+ years have been having a great deal of difficulty with what appear to be bug bites on the back of my neck, head and shoulders. The ones in my hair/back of my head are raised, then scab over and flake away, but the bumps stay….We live next to Butternut Creek and I like to garden a great deal and be outside when I can; however, it has become quite painful and the doctors I have seen have not been able to resolve it or ease the discomfort. Yes, there are mayflies in the area, and summer we are visited by mesquitoes a lot. I have used insect repellent and deet as well. The “bites” begin small in size, appear to have a pinlike prick with a small blood spot, the ones behind my ears are a swollen circle and feel warm to the touch. I also have one large patch of what looks like a burn that is healing on my right hand and another on the top of my left foot. I don’t “feel” anything bite me at the time, I just start to intensely itch to the point of no return. It is worse at night…If anyone has any idea what this might be or who I should see for treatment I would greatly appreciate it. I have seen a dermatologist who did a biopsy over a year ago and she came up with nothing. They treated it with steriods, anti viral meds, and allergy medicine. I’m going crazy with the itching and burning. Thanks for any suggestions you might be able to give me.

    Scratching and going nuts!

  17. Danielle

    I had the same thing a few weeks ago. I thought they were “bites” as well. I went to see my physician and he told me otherwise. Have you had shingles? They look like bites, are extremely itchy, as well as leave your skin “sore”. If that is the case, I recommend you see a doctor right away. Shingles can cause permanent nerve damage if not treated promtly. Hope this helps.

  18. Sacha

    Could it be a tick-bite?

  19. Barb

    A friend from upstate New York once told me her kids would play outside during black fly season and come in dripping blood. Apparently they were unaware they’d been bitten. Sounds a lot like what happened to your daughter. I don’t know if you live in a black fly area, or if it’s black fly season, but if one kind of insect bite can have that effect I imagine it’s possible others would too. As for bat bites, it seems unlikely; wouldn’t that leave definite tooth marks?

  20. Gina

    Julie A., I am so curious as so how things turned out with Pumpkin. My 2yo was bitten by something a week ago that also bled. He too was also in a wooded area with granny watching him. It was a little more than a pin prick, more like a very small piece of skin torn out. It didnt bother him at the time but now he came to me trying to tell me his boo boo hurts. I checked the bite out and now there is a very small lump under the skin. Weird. After reading this month’s issue of Parents magazine, Im even more freaked out. There was a big article in it about bat bites and rabies. Im going to call the doctor first thing tomorrow of course and until then Im going to tell myself it is a Mayfly bite. Dont you hate it when doctors dismiss your worries as “first time mothering”. My thanks to all of the info people have posted, I too had visions of crazed rabid bats swooping down for a little bite! Stupid Mayflies!

  21. scott

    Bats are sound asleep at 3:30 PM

  22. scott

    Sorry, I didn’t see your post Gina. It is rare for a bat to have rabies, and its extremely rare for a bat to bite a human. If it were a single piece of missing flesh, not a puncture wound, I would guess Horse or Deer Fly. Both are painful and will cause bleeding.

  23. Sandy

    Re: Post by Julie Moran Alteria I have just read your May post on June 20 as I sit here waiting a call from a doctor that I have never seen (because mine is on vacation) about what I should do about a mysterious bite 15 days ago. I went to the doctor on day 3, was prescribed a steroidal cream and ZPack. I asked if it
    could possible be from a bat bite. He said, “unlikely” and did not recomment post-exposure treatment. I had (now fading) about a 3” x 1” red area with a tiny dot in the middle if you really looked hard. I do know that something landed on me and bit me, but as I turned to see what it was, it was flying off. I am 62 years old and had been working in my yard without my glasses. I only know that it was a dark color and if it was a bat, would have been a baby bat. But the question is still there, was it or wasn’t it? My Health Department says IF there is any possibility that it could have been a bat, then post-exposure treatment is valid. However, you must have a doc’s prescription, and again, I am on Day 15 following the bite.

    I am extremely interested in what you did. I know that I would have pushed for the post-exposure treatment. After reading about how you sometimes can’t feel a bat’s bite, and that there are really tiny ones, it makes me just want to stay INSIDE. Please let us know what you did.
    I am here awaiting a call to see if this doctor will see me, and I’m a nervous wreck.

  24. Brad Adams

    I was wondering if you ever went through the rabies vaccine treatment. I awoke last Friday nite to find a bite/scratch…bleeding badly. My scenario could be exactly described the same way as what happened to your child. I was in Steamboat Springs, CO, in an area with heavy bat concentrations, but absolutely no sign of bat, bug…anything…that could of caused my wounds. I have been working with the CO health and wildlife officials here and it come down to a total unknown as to what happened and it is my decision as to whether to start treatment. I definitely understand your anxiety and was wondering what your decision had been.

  25. Sandy

    Julie has not let us know what she ended up doing about her daughter, but as for me, I am currently undergoing the treatments. They are not the terror that they used to be. However, my regular doctor (who was on vacation) still says he would not have recommended post-exposure for me had he been in town. I did find out that having these treatments gives no protection for any future incidents.

  26. Toni

    I have looked online too for this very thing. I am 39 yrs old and its the 4th of july and we were doing the firework thing and the mosquitos where really bad and once i hit the back of my knee and felt wetness i thought i got the mosquito but then i looked at my hand and it was bloody. I washed it off cause it would not stop bleeding I hopped in the bath tub and held my leg with the washcloth then put alcohol(that hurt bad) then after it just about stopped bleeding I put neosporin on a band aid. I’m still a lil freaked out, but I’d like to know what the heck it was.

  27. anne

    I just got a blackfly bite this morning…it bled steadily for about half an hour. No pain, I just felt the blood trickling on my neck. Even though I thought blackfly season was in early spring, it’s been hot in the part of NH where I live, and I was walking on a sidewalk near a tiny stream, so the blackfly seems the likely suspect.

    To me, Pumpkin’s bite sounded like a blackfly bite. No pain, lots of blood. (The blackfly uses a painkiller and an anticoagulant to prepare for its meal. I guess it’s gotta eat, but it ruined my shirt!)

  28. Richard

    It couldn’t have been a Bat since their bites rarely, if ever draw blood. The marks in the ear wouldn’t bleed from a Bat since their claws are so small that would make a cut impossible to bleed.

    Plus if it were a Rabid Bat, you would’ve still found it close by sense their flying skills are hindered by the virus.

  29. Richard

    Also, a single puncture mark wouldn’t be a bat since they would leave two marks a few centimeters apart from each other.

    ALWAYS have someone check the area that was bleeding really close, especially if you’re worried a bat may have bit you. Finding a bat bite is rare and even rarer for it to bleed – the bleeding area would be great place to check for puncture marks since you knw just where to look.

  30. Julie

    Has anyone ever heard of a bat leaving scratches rather than a bite? I have bats in my attic and stupidly went up there during the day. Now, I have two parallel scratches on my upper arm that are about 1/2” long and 3/4” apart from each other. Yesterday they were bleeding just a bit, today they are scabbing. I didn’t feel anything at the time. I noticed them a day later than when I believe they happened. Why do I think they were left by a bat? Because I normally feel when I cut myself and I was in bat territory, my attic. From what I’ve read, you don’t necessarily feel a bat bite. The local county health dept says if I didn’t see a bat (I didn’t) they weren’t going to open a file on me. My doctor said it didn’t look like anything other than I scratched myself. I want to let this go but rabies is such a scary disease! Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

  31. Stacy

    I think my son was bit by a bat also. Last friday we were house sitting and I awoke to a large brown bat hovering over us while we were sleeping. It was VERY scary and I felt like it was stalking me. He would not let me leave the room. It seemed like forver but I got out and called the estranged husband of the person I was house sitting for. He came right over and killed it. I have suggested that they take the bat to get tested but no one seems to care. Now this morning over a week later I noticed tiny, perfectly parallel bite marks on my sons arm. Could this be a bat bite????? I am so nervous!

  32. Cheryl

    I was bitten by a bat 5 years ago. We had seen a bat (thought it was a bird at first), in our house, searched for it, and couldn’t find it. My husband said it probably went out the way it came in, and we went to bed. When I got up the next morning to let our dog out, I noticed a perfect circular spot on the top of my nose, that had been bleeding. I couldn’t imagine how I injured myself during the night. Then it occurred to me…oh no, the bat. Apparently they hide in-between covers/blankets at night. It was a hot night, and I only covered up with a sheet that night. Sometime in the night, I got cold, and had reached down to pull the blanket up…it was there, and I didn’t know it. It bit the top of my nose. I get creeped out just thinking about it, so glad I didn’t even feel it bite me.

    I waited a few days, worried, and finally went to my doctor. My entire family that was also in the house at the time, was given the 5 series of “post” rabies shots. They did not hurt at all. I was so glad we went in…the shots have to be given no later than the 5th day, after a suspected bite or scratch.

    As I write this, I found this site because I was looking up info to see what was required, if a 2nd bite occurred. Yes, my college son got bit last week inside the old house he has rented while sleeping in his upstairs bedroom. They saw a bat the next morning in the bedrooms. He thought he had some strange rash, or bites, but they didn’t itch. I saw him last night, and freaked…I recognized the perfect cirular looking mark which is actually 2 puncture marks. He has an appointment today (this is the 5th day!), to get a booster vaccine today, and then another 3 days later. This is because he already had the series before, and the booster will reactivate the previous series of shots. Very scary that we just figured out what had happened, and are getting help.

  33. cindy

    My 3 year old son (a twin) has over 24 bug bites over his body from the last 2 days. Some are just small red bumps, others are angry red lumps a little bigger than a quarter with scabbed over middles. Last night something bit him all over his head, on his neck and there are even bites on his ear face and nose. Yesterday, one angry bite on his arm was the biggest concern. He threw up his orange juice (unusal) and was very subdued and quiet (not feeling well) all day. He also didn’t want to eat. Today, he’s running around playing, eating, but has 2 more very angry bites on the same arm closer to the shoulder and one an inch under his armpit. My husband says he’s fine although we’ve been googling bites. We even changed all the bedding (again, just did it yesterday but again this a.m.) and vacuumed the mattresses and the carpets extremely well (because we saw a post on bedbugs – which I don’t think this was). We live in MN and have been out on the deck over the weekend with the great weather. I’m thinking its a combination of mosquito, spider or ant bites from playing outside in the dirt. My other twin has only one, barely pink bug bite. Scotty must just be juicier. ;) I think we should take him to the clinic but my husband doesn’t think its necessary. We washed him, put ambesol on the bite spots, then neosporin and put him in jeans and a long sleeved top, even though its hot out today. Any advice? I’d never forgive myself if he were to suffer anything long-term because of this strange bug bite dilemma.

  34. Andrew K

    Cindy, My guess would be either biting flies, or mayflies, they bite alot and dont give up, have a doctor or dermatologist check him out if nothing improves.

  35. Kim

    I am heading into the doctors office myself to have what apprears to be 2 very small puncture wounds on my hand examind. I woke up yesterday morning with the 2 spots (not bleeding) on my hand. They were not there when I went to bed. The punctures got a little sore & red during the day but today look like 2 small scabs. We have had bats in the house on several occations but I could not find one when I searched the bedroom. I am very concerned that it could be a bat bite. I feel that you are better off to get the post treatment and over react than to die from rabies.
    I would like to hear what happened with Julie’s daughter.

  36. Jed

    A couple weeks ago, I was working in the yard, wearing flipflops. It was early afternoon. I felt a sharp pain on the back of my heel, and I reflexively jumped, hit it with my hand, and then ran into the house. I didn’t see anything unusual on my heel. There was what might have been a tiny puncture wound, but it also could have been a scar from an old blister. There was no blood. I washed it with water and then put an ice pack on it. It continued to hurt for several hours, and then a couple days later, there was some itching. There was never any swelling or redness. I just assumed it was a bee or wasp, but now I’m wondering if it could have been a bat. There are bats living nearby, and I suppose it’s possible that a sick or dying bat may have been lying on the ground and found a heel right in front of his face and decided to strike. If I had thought about this earlier, I could have had a look around the yard, but it’s a bit late for that now. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  37. kristin

    When i visit upstate NY, I get blackfly bites in summer that leave blood and no itching or stinging. THese bites occur in my hairline along my neck and in my ears. Bats are nocturnal and it they were rabid and out in the day, they would be really spastic and grannie probably would have seen it flailing around.

  38. Jennyct

    Read page 7 about blackflies


    They like to bite around the ear area and neckline, and they leave blood. Sensitivity doesen’t always occur.

  39. maryb

    We have bats in the siding of our country house in upstate New York. Sometimes bats get into the house, lately, a lot (they must have found a new way to get in!). Last Friday when we arrived at the house, my daughter, who had fallen asleep in the car, was brought up to her room and put into bed. The following evening, I saw a bat in her room, hanging above the curtain. My daughter said that when she was playing in the room, she had heard strange noises and now seeing the bat, and hearing it, realized that the bat was in her room all day but she never noticed it. On Sunday, I noticed two red marks on the back of her neck – I assumed they were bug bites, possibly spider bites. However, now that the redness has gone, there are about 4 or 5 little lines, exactly the same size/length on her neck. It’s in the spot where one of the bites was. I’m very concerned. Can this possibly be a bat bite? (I’m freaking out!) I’ve been looking for photos on line that resemble what she has but haven’t seen anything like this, but in some of these postings, they mention the same kinds of lines.
    Can anyone help w/ this?
    thank you.

  40. Sarah

    I was brushing my hair this morning and I got to the lower part around where my neck it I brushed and it started to hurt. I thought that it was just the brush pulled out some hair that was extremly tangled. I put my hair in a ponytail then I felt along my hair line to see if it was meesy or anything, I felt a bump so I showed my Mom. She touched it and it was a little sore.Then she said that it looked like a bug bite that had been scratched. I told her that I had hit it with the brush. She told me not to mess with it or it may bleed. Then just recently (about 5-10 min.) I felt another bump on the other side of my hairline. I told my Mom and she said to look on the comp and see what I could find. I didnt see anything though so I’m asking for some help. If yu know anything, PLEASE TELL ME!

  41. Ginna

    I used to get bit by gnats all the time when I was a little girl. They would always go for behind the ears on me and they would bleed. I could never feel the bites and would only know when my mom would see the blood behind my ears. It was definately not from a bat. Don’t get stressed about this. It would happen to my brother too. It’s just gnats and maybe childrens skin is just tender and more likely to bleed. I just got bit by a gnat the other day and I do not bleed anymore from them now that I am an adult. I hope this helps you :)

  42. Justin

    After reading your questions I can say this, if there is any question pumpkin was exposed to rabies or (bat bite )your family DR. should advise you to get the series of shots to be certain she has not been exposed.Rather be safe than sorry.

  43. Lisa M.

    ok, laugh if you will. But seems alot of people are going for some rather large animal answers here.(though always good to be on the cautious side,but always be prepared for something simple too) There is a easier answer and you can ask any “Bugspert” if a person is bitten by a little black fly, yes that’s its name. When bitten it produces lots of blood. It looks like a gnat but is solid black.

  44. Deb A.

    I found 2 sets of itchy spots, same distance apart on each, one on my arm, one on my knee. The doctor raised he.. with me for not calling him on the weekend or going to ER. I thought they would both laugh me off when my husband told me they might be bat bites. Guess I should have listened to hubby. We live in a home with an attic window that blows open occasioanlly. Hubby said a bat could have come in and down the stairs to find a warm spot (our bedroom?) and could’ve bitten me during the night just by being startled. I started a rabies series today…will keep getting injections until Feb. 2009. Now to check hubby and my 17 year old!

  45. Scared...

    Really they had you take the PEP even though you didn’t see what caused the marks? That shocks me. Something poked my finger and I didn’t see what it was, I called lots of “experts” all who said not to worry. I guess the difference is you have specific marks and an attic window, I was outside with leaf debri during the day and felt the prick, just don’t know what caused it.

  46. Danielle k

    My daughter just got the exact same type of bites, while playing in her sand table on our back porch. When we came in she had bloody red welts on her neck and in her hair. I would clean one up and another would start bleeding. We went to the pediatrician who sent us to the dermatologist who said it was bug bites. We left with cortisone cream and they are healing up. We sprayed the back for bugs the past few days and ventured out again today. Today I found a bite on my own hair line, right after we saw some bugs flying around (little black gnat looking things) and came in the house.

    So it sounds like you’ve got the same type of bugs.

  47. Corian

    My kids….4 of them and their friends have all started coming in with these bite marks and dried blood spots on the back of their hairlines….and after reading this I am sure that they are “may”fly bite or some other biting fly…I have noticed they do not come in with more bites when I’m sure to spay the back of their necks with deep woods off. Hope that helps some one else!

  48. steve

    where are the pictures?????

  49. Daniel

    Just Wow.

    This is a 2007 post, still getting hits and comments in 2009.
    Julie. Either delete this post (preferably) or update it with what, if anything actually came of your panic attack.

    Let me comment plainly and not indulge you:

    1) What I would do if it were my child is NOT CONSULT THE INTERNET at large.
    2) If I were to consult the internet, I would not write a long, chronological stream of consciousness where my state of consciousness were mindless panic.
    3) I would have my child diagnosed through examination, and accept off hand dismissal after a couple of professionals were questioned.
    4) I would not call my child pumpkin. Such a name can’t get her a job better than lap-dancing. I hope it’s a nickname.

    I will now write what you should have posted:
    I am posting because I’m worried about some small bleeding bite marks I found on my X-year old child after 5 min of unattended play in the sandbox outdoors. These marks bled a lot but did not swell or itch, and were on the nape of the neck and just inside one ear. On the neck, some blood pooled under the skin as well, making it larger over time. My child was found playing exactly as she was left, apparently unawares of having been bitten. Calls to my pediatrician suggest it was a gnat, but I’m certain [the doctor is totally tired of my panic attacks over nothing and] those would swell up. I’m most worried it might have been a bat. I recall a case of a bat bite that lead to a rabies death were the girl had no idea what had bit her. This really worries me now and I’d appreciate any comments with any [baseless speculation or ] ideas of what this might be, especially if you’ve experienced something like this.

    -signed you.

    Notice how I don’t assume the reader knows anything about me. I assume this is the first time, maybe the last, the reader is reading something on my site, and thus don’t bother with the name. If I had used the name, I would have linked it directly with “my daughter, pumpkin” for future reference. This has nothing to do with other details like your mother’s age and speed, the location of a sippy cup, where you were and what you were doing, who you talked to when and how, the details of bat related death, what worries you, and what person’s advice you’ve ignored so far due to this worry.

    You are asking a direct question. Keep it succinct and clear. Also update your post once you find a solution or the situation resolves itself.

    So here’s some further tips:

    Don’t try to diagnose something you can’t identify or name through the internet. It clearly doesn’t work, look at how many people ended up reading this. Always have someone examine the symptoms directly, don’t just call and ask a nurse (I know your husband brought in your daughter, how sweet of him to indulge your fears). Please don’t take up suggestions to find a specialist (too costly) or the CDC (they’re professional exaggerators who only believe hospital reports in any case).

    Now here’s an analysis:

    I will assume your child could not speak yet, or you would have told us she told you she didn’t know what bit her. You’re verbose like that.
    Your child could not have been bitten by a bat to get such marks.
    The facts are simple, You don’t note the daytime, but you were working in a home office in summer, so let’s assume it was light out.
    You may have heard that bats are nocturnal.
    The only reason the dead child didn’t recall being bitten is that the child MUST have been asleep when bitten.
    A bat would have startled her. Elicited a scream perhaps. And almost definitely left more scratch marks than bite marks.
    [Aside to Shannon, spiders sometimes bite in paired marks.]

    People have been bitten by all kinds of things that cause bleeding but no itching. I’ll name some of my own experiences with: beetles (a big, scarab / dung beetle actually), leeches, mosquitos (particularly after a week of getting 10s of bits a day, some bites stopped reacting, and just plain bled), some kind of biting fly (some called it a horse-fly), a field mouse (just because it’s playing dead for your cat doesn’t mean it wants help), not a scorpion (that burned and stung worse than a bee sting, but the scorpion fluoresced so it was cool).

    Even if it was a bat, you have nothing to worry about.
    With rabies it is NOT better safe than sorry, as people not only like to say, but actually have said in the comments.
    Rabies deaths are extremely rare.
    First the biter has to have rabies. Second even if no one believes you that it was a mammal, you have some 72 hours to get a series of shots, during which time you’ll develop classic symptoms during which the suspicion of a unknown bite will get taken more seriously.
    The shots are painful and sickening. A lot of places don’t carry them at all because: Rabies deaths are extremely rare. You will get the shots when it really is “better safe than sorry” because it looks like you probably have rabies, not when you don’t have any signs of rabies and are fearful that you’d better get the shots just in case.

    In closing you strike me as the the classic parent, fearful for your child, and impervious to logic. Please don’t campaign for any new laws or statutes.

  50. Daniel

    BTW for everyone reading this page this case was closed as not a bat, nor a rabid animal just one day after this posting was made.


  51. Jennifer

    I wanted to let youo know that when I was a kid, I had a couple of these bites. We commonly refer to them as “vampire bug” bites. I don’t know where my mother got her information but… they bite at the hairline, you usually find them when you reach up to scratch the bite and find some dried blood, after you clean it it itches like crazy, and the craziest part: the only bite females. I live in northern IN and it happened to myself as well as my mom, my sister, and a few neighbors.

  52. Kittycat

    You wrote: “You may have heard that bats are nocturnal.”

    Yes, bats are nocturnal and so are skunks too, yet those that are out in the daytime (and they do come about) are the ones that must ESPECIALLY be watched! However, it doesn’t ever mean that those at nighttime shouldn’t be watched, as these may have rabies too. And it’s said that many bites from a bat do not always necessarily hurt, period. Chances are, though, the child was just bitten by some bugs, which I’ve been bitten by throughout my lifetime being as I live in TX.

    Look, I say people rule over animals and insects, period. I’m not into the PC thing where you can kill a poisonous snake or a scorpion, etc. That’s just so stupid. They will always be there, and there are good snakes that do the same thing. Just like anything, I guess.

  53. Kittycat

    Sorry, correction:

    Look, I say people rule over animals and insects, period. I’m not into the PC thing where you can’t kill a poisonous snake or a scorpion, etc., i.e., you SHOULD

  54. rita

    I can’t believe no one has written since 7/9 with an answer. I have been covered with what I first thought were bed bugs, then scabies, then mersa, then some kind of melanoma in my blood (I have had melanoma). But, no sting, no pain. Some infection, but just touching spots and they bleed and leave a whole in my skin, barely under the skin. Dermatologist did not listen, treated me like I self inflicted, would not touch me-that was almost 1 month ago. Infection goes down with constant cream, but scars and pigment changes are extreme, and they have spread to my back and some on my legs. CDC call couldn’t help me. I have a cat who scratched me playfully about 6 weeks ago, then was in the hospital for 4 hours getting bone mass test and eval. Started shortly after—around July 1st. Layers of skin began to peel from elbow, then bleed. I do not go in the sun at all. I don’t think my primary Dr will know what it is tomorrow, nor a 2nd dermatologist next week. I wake with headaches and feel mildly naseaus most of the time. Are there any answers yet out there? Rabies??? I never even considered it, but this cat is a feral I agreed to socialize, not knowing he was never seen medically. I am getting scared.

  55. Carol

    I am commenting on the comment that Daniel made…”The shots are painful and sickening” This is totally untrue. The shots are only as painful as a normal shot and are not at all sickening. I believe your logic in your analysis is also incorrect. I wanted to clear this up for anyone who would need shots. What you are referring to are the series of shots that used to be given many years ago.

  56. Karen

    I was looking at this blog to investigate some strange bites I was receiving on my arms and legs when in my apartment. Regardless of what the actual culprit was with the original case (pumpkin), I just want to point out that I think the respondant “Daniel” is a pompous, condescending jerk who was out of line with his hostile (bordering on abusive) response to the child’s mother. I’m surprised his comments were allowed to be posted. There was no reason for him to be so nasty and derogatory-if he didn’t like her posting, he simply need not read it or pay it any mind. And while the mother may have provided more narrative details than necessaryI think what she was simply trying to get at were all the factorstimingchain of events,etcin order to create the most accurate picture of what happened so as to best help her child. However, the same “verbose” slur could be used to describe his extremely overly-wordy and clearly self-indulgently smug postingparticularly the irrelevant details about how “cool” it was that his scorpion bite flouresced. (we don’t know you and we’re not supposed to care about trivial, narrative details-right?)

    And while we’re analyzing and critiquing people’s personality flaws-Daniel strikes me as a person who is rather angry (“classic” case of hostile personality type) and has some unresolved issues he might need to work on. Anyone have any suggestions? I have never in my life posted anything on a blog, but I felt the need to respond to such an overtly inappropriate posting (perhaps this makes me no better than him-but my response is more due to outrage at his insensitivity than my own personal need to simply make someone feel bad about themselves, as he was clearly trying to do).

  57. brad

    an assassin bug? I got bit on the back of my neck and done just as you described!

  58. Shani

    My daughter has a “bite” on her head, right behind her left ear. It itches very bad, and when I first looked at it, it had like small black spots on it, that I found out was a scab when I cleaned it off with a washcloth, and when I finally saw her skin under that scab, it looked like a puncture mark. Her neck has a red line all the way from the “bite” to almost her shoulder-like a reaction in her bloodstream moving down her neck. Now, this is not the first time this has happened-the first time was earlier this summer-in the exact same spot!- and one on the back of her head. I took a couple of weeks to go away, and then it happened again-in the same spot-for a total now of 3 times in the same place! I took her to two doctors, and one said spider bite, and one gave me an antibiotic and said it mustive been and infection of some sort?... I still don’t really know what it is and am pretty concerned-the kicker being that these spots are always in the same place… any ideas from anyone??!!

  59. Anamaria Lissy

    It is important to take care to look after your hearing, I actually like taking care hearing and whilst I do agree with the higher up poster and I really hope I do not get shot down for stating this, but I believe it is important to take all things in moderation.

  60. Mae

    I found this blog through a google search “bleeding gnat bites” so here it is March, 2010. I have 5 bites on the back of my neck and ears from gardening in a warm afternoon 4 days ago. I had the same kind of bites starting about 5 years ago while gardening. They bleed then they swell up, itch and stay swelled for at least a week. They’re painful, bothersome and I’m pretty sure that they are from Buffalo gnats and/or Midges that come out in the Spring. We never had them before in Oregon but we sure do now.
    I’ve seen them swarm on warm afternoons around the yard and pretty much know after much research that these little critter’s bites cause the bleeding from their anticoagulants that they inject. They feed on the blood to produce their young.
    They breed near creeks or open water, are impossible to control and are especially troublesome just before storms arrive when it’s warmer. They can travel quite a distance from their breeding places too.
    The reason they bite in the neck/head areas is that they are attracted to Carbon Dioxide which we humans & animals exhale. That differentiates them from “black flies” which will attack the ankles, arms, etc. though they are grouped together in many cases.
    I am going to wear a scarf, netting or some sort of protection from them while gardening because their bites are no fun at all. After 4 days they are still painfully swollen and red even after many applications of Triple antibiotic/cortisone cream.
    I’m going to try to find a natural bug repellent that will work to keep them from biting too. If I find anything that works, I’ll post any results here as this seems to be a growing problem in many areas. I hope my post helps you to protect youselves, your kids and your animals from these very pesky critters.

  61. jenny

    My 20 month-old had the exact thing happen today—dried blood on the back of her neck and then a red flat mark left behind after I dabbed the dried blood away. She had this happen on her ear just a week ago—so much blood! I dabbed it away and found the same thing underneath. I have a faint memory of this happening at the same time of year to my 6 year old daughter when she was a toddler—right around her hairline as well. I often find myself surrounded by may flies swarming my face and head. Someone told me that it was a may fly bite—so I assumed this was the case since they are all over this time of year. But I can’t figure out why they are only biting toddlers—I’ve never been bitten and my 4 and 6 year old are not getting bites! Anyway—I am sure this is what it is. . . just strange!

  62. mom

    The same thing just happened to my 9 yr old dtr and her friend. It’s the may flies, I picked it off her and a trickle of blood ran down her neck. I have nicknamed them the vampire flies. They look like little black beetles. This has happened since she was very young, we live on a wooded lot and out on the play set near the sand box is where it always seems to happen. AND only in MAY. Doesn’t hurt at first then swells and gets itchy and painful. They clear up.

  63. Kramkat

    I was checking up on bug bites, and came across this blog. I am so shocked to read about how many people believe, or speculate that they have been bitten by a bat?! I have never heard of anyone being bitten by a bat before. Some of the speculations just seem so unlikely. If you seek medical advice and the MD has said there is nothing to worry about, then there is nothing to worry about. Black flies, Deer Flies, Horse Flies, Sand Flies all bite, leaving bloody welts. Mosquitoes also can leave some blood when they bite. I am allergic to mosquito bites and get huge welts up to the size of a grapefruit. I treat any insect bite with oral anti-histamines and topical hydrocortisone cream. I wish everyone who is reading this blog good luck in their search for answers.

  64. Amanda Vanderhoff

    I can tell you it is not a bat bight i don’t know what it is, but both my kids and my husband have had them, and its not a bat bite, and just like you i can not find anything on it.

  65. Randall Larson

    I have some pics of what I think was a bat bite. On my calf, while sitting at a picnic table. Left the picnic, came home with no activities. Looked down at my leg and pool of blood was dying up. Size of a quarter or so. Clean it up and go some close up pics. Looks very suspicious like two bites.

    I did feel something on my leg but thought it was just a small bug.

    Bit is approx 1/2 to 1 CM wide.

    I went and had the rabies shots.

    Where can I post the pics?

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  67. aadvm

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  68. katie

    To Me it sounds like a horse fly as well. Horse fly’s bite are painful and they do seem to draw out a lot of blood. My children have been bit by one before and it isn’t enought to cause them to scream or cry. I can really see my children playing and get bit and brush it off and keep playing especially if they are really into it.

    Why I was interested in this website is because I woke up and had small scab blood type bites in the back of my head aroudn the hair line. I have no cluse what they are and also live in upstate newyork. any info would be great!

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    I couldn’t read no more. After reading the name Pumpkin over and over again, I threw up ALOT in my mouth. Sorry. Give Buffy and Mortimer my condolences…

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  78. Ann McKenna

    After reading most of the comments I am compelled to write. Wednesday past I was very tired,due to having just 3 hours sleep night before. I had put the garbage out at the curb and got ready for bed,when I couldn’t find my medication. Only place I could think was I’d dropped them into the open garbage bag accidently. I re dressed,and went down to the bag, opened it altho it’s a bag with a draw string so something small could get in. Ok maybe I’m talking nonsense or simply paranoid but, I pulled out a small bag I’d used that evening and rummaged thru it.Found the pills,closed the bag again and came up. Next morning I was drinking my coffee where I saw 2 blood spots on my hand. Cleaned it and one was a small puncture mark but not bleeding now.Question is, is there any possiblity that a bat would have got into my bag,and bit me without me feeling pain.. better yet, would a bat go into a garbage bag full of garbage perhaps for food? Hoping someone will say ” of course not, bats don’t go into trash”?

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  81. Kelli w

    First and formost I want to calm ur worries about a bat or animal. My daughter and son have gotten these bites both last year and just yesturday this year. Lasty year I was lucky enough to catch one of the suckers in the act. It is a bug. Small gnat like fly. They attack children around the hairline, ears and any parts in the hair that make it easy for the gnat to land on the skin. I can’t recall their technical term but look up no-see-em gnats. (There’s a reason they have this nick name) also valley black gnat. Last year my daughter was 3 and they did not itch or bother her, this year she said they hurt a little when she lays down on them and they rub. Needless to say these things are vicious and usually stick around for a week or two. Keep hats on your children and make bug spray your new friend. They do bleed and sometimes swell a little after 12-24hrs. They gave me a run for my money last year but this year I’m ready for them. Keep your grass in your yard cut short and keep pooling water out of your yard if possible for a few weeks, it will minimize the amount of bugs. I wish you luck, if you see more bites part through her hair, u just might find one hiding there or behind the ears.

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  89. Willow

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    Nice to know it was mayfly.

  90. Sheree Allison

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  104. Adele

    we noticed a similar bloody puncture bite on our daughter yesterday. Today, I had my hair up in a pony tail and somehow got three similar bites. I KNOW there were no bats flying around my head. There were plenty of little bugs flying around, though. I think you can relax.

  105. beth

    my 3yo daughter also has strange bites on her neck and all over her head. they are little soild red dots about 4 times the size of a needle prick…she also has 2 other bites that had blood. i’ve looked so many things up today trying to figure out what they are. these bugs look like mayflies…but everyone says mayflies don’t bite. she has 7 total. they are not raised they are flat and not bothering her, just me.

  106. Mechelle

    I got bit by a beetle in two different areas and I have two parallel scratches, all raised above the skin, that bled for a while after it happened. It also burned and hurt a whole lot at first. But seems like it might not bother someone who tolerates pain well. (some people do) It’s late July here in Ga, and I’ve never had this happen before. Hope this helps someone!

  107. Chris

    I’ve been stung twice in the last week while watering my grass, by something that feels like a hundred fire ants stinging me at the same time. Once on the upper part of my foot and on the back of my hand. It leaves two puncture marks on the skin about 2 mm apart, the symptoms are instant feeling of extreme pain, followed by swelling, and eventually itching after several days. The itching and swelling lasts approx 3 to 4 days. The 1st sting happened at night, and the 2nd during the morning hours around 9am. I instantly looked my hand to swat the insect off of me but didn’t see anything on it or flying away. I’m at a loss for what it could be! If anyone has any ideas it would be much appreciated!

  108. Peter

    this makes my nuts itch

  109. Christoper

    My programmer is trying to convince me to move
    to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress
    on various websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard good things about blogengine.net.
    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  110. Robin Stettnisch

    Feral cats also pose a major rabies risk especially with children. Google “rabies outbreak in Westchester county and the connection to feral cats” for more information.

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About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE


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