I personally think that mosquitoes are one of the most deadly killers on this planet! You may want to argue that fact with me if you’re faced with a tiger in the jungle though!
They are responsible for infecting humans with a multitude of nasty diseases, such as:
Malaria – Africa, South and Central America, Asia and the Middle East – bite in hours of darkness dusk to dawn
Yellow Fever – tropical areas of Africa, South America, Eastern Panama and Trinidad – bite daylight hours dawn to dusk
Japanese Encephalitis – South East and East Asia and the Pacific – bite in hours- of darkness dusk to dawn
Dengue Fever – Caribbean, South and Central America, Mexico, Africa, the Pacific Islands, SE Asia, Indian sub-continent, Hawaii,and Australia – bite in daylight hours dawn to dusk
Chikungunya – Africa, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and the Philippines. Occasionally, the virus can be found in other countries where the mosquito that spreads Chikungunya can also be found – bite in daylight hours dawn to dusk
There are some other rather exotic sounding diseases that mosquitos can transmit; Zika virus, Rift Valley fever, Ross River fever, Filariasis and West Nile fever to mention but a few.
Tiny little blood suckers. Sometimes they can be difficult to spot, they can be as small as a poppy seed! After having a feed, adult ticks can swell up to the size of a small pea and become much lighter in colour.
They can infect you with Tick Bourne Encephalitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Lyme disease and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever.
Ticks can’t jump or fly they normally hitch a lift and become attached to skin or clothing after brushing against bracken or long grass, they then wander off to warm moist areas of the body such as groins or armpits to have a meal.
Try to wear long trousers and tuck them into your socks, not an attractive look I know, but vital. Don’t forget to consider using insecticide spray to treat your clothes. Wear a hat in forested areas they can drop from trees.
Check your body regularly for ticks, have a ‘tick buddy’ who can check difficult to reach areas!
Carry a tick remover or fine tipped tweezers so that ticks can be safely and easily removed. You should always try to remove ticks as soon as possible. Get the tick remover or tweezers as close to the skin as possible, then slowly and firmly pull upwards until the tick releases your skin. Don’t twist or jerk the tick, this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin, which can lead to infection if left. If this happens, try to remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.
DON’T – crush or squeeze the tick’s body or hit with books or try to burn or freeze it, or use petroleum jelly or liquid solutions to suffocate the tick as this may shock the tick and prompt it to regurgitate saliva into the bite wound and spread infection.
After removing the tick, it’s a very good idea to wash your hands and the affected area with soap and water, then treat the bite area with an antiseptic.
Well, you’ve got Trypanosomiasis (African and American), Leishmaniasis, Onchocerciasis and Bartonellosis to worry about!
Only a few of these diseases can be prevented by medication or vaccination so really the only way of protecting yourself is by keeping your insect bites to a minimum.
Find out more about these diseases on Fit for Travel
Clothes are your best protection – normally only use repellents on remaining exposed areas of skin.Wear loose fitting, light coloured clothing. Mosquitos can bite through tight clothing. You can also treat clothes with permethrin spray (an insecticide that kills insects on contact) this should only be used on clothing NOT skin.
Insect repellent – DEET has been proven to be the most effective preparation in preventing mosquito bites, it is the repellent of choice in areas with diseases such chikungunya and dengue.
DEET has been used as an insect repellent for around 50 years and it is available in different concentrations.
50% concentration is recommended.
DEET can be used for children over the age of 2 months. For children, use clothing as the main barrier and repellent on any remaining exposed areas of skin.
If you are taking a baby under two months travelling to countries with risks of the above diseases get expert advice about suitable repellents.
It can be used in pregnancy and breast feeding women.
If you are using sunscreen, it is advised that repellent must be applied after sunscreen.
Remember to remove repellent with soap and water when it is no longer needed.
Do not spray directly onto faces, spray on hands first and then apply to face. Wash hands after applying to prevent contact with lips and eyes.
Never use on cuts, abrasions or irritated skin.
Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Alternative recommended insect repellents are those containing Picaridin 20% or Saltidin 12.5% and these can be used for children aged two years and older (NATHNAC)
Oil of lemon eucalyptus-based repellent is also available however this repellent only lasts as long as 15% DEET and so needs applying more frequently. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is a different product and is not recommended as an insect repellent. (NATHNAC)
It is best to avoid sunscreen that is combined with repellent.
In your room or tent – Consider using plug-in or battery operated vaporisers that release an insecticide mist in your room.
Try to stay in accommodation that is air-conditioned, this usually reduces the number of insects in your room.
If you are visiting high risk malaria areas you should sleep under a mosquito net that has been treated with insecticide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends this type of net. The insecticide used in these nets mean that a mosquito will be killed on contact if it lands on the net.
Don’t forget the daytime biters! Those that sleep during the day, particularly young children, or sick or older people, should also sleep under a net. Cot nets are available.
Check your net for holes before you use it. If you find a hole then this can be easily mended by either using a mosquito net repair kit or simply by using a needle and thread. Tape is useful to repair large tears.
Make sure you tuck your net under mattresses or ground sheets to stop the insects getting in to share your bed with you. So do ensure that you buy a big enough net. It would be sensible to buy an impregnated net in the UK and take it with you rather than relying upon what’s there, the nets at your holiday destination may not be of good quality, or treated with insecticide or they might even be invisible!
Check your window and door screens or shutters to make sure that there are no holes in them, holes will allow insects entry into your sleeping area. Remember to shut all screens and shutters before dusk and until dawn to avoid insect entry into rooms.
Also useful to prevent any unwanted guests making an appearance in the night, after all you don’t want to wake up to any surprises do you? Mosquito repellent coils can reduce insect bites by repelling and killing mosquitos, so they may be useful for some travellers, but they should only be used outdoors, not in your room.
There is no proof (scientific or otherwise) that bath oils, electronic “buzzers”, essential oils, garlic, homeopathic remedies, odour baited mosquito traps, tea tree oil, skin moisturisers, smoking, vitamin B tablets or yeast extract (Marmite®), prevent insect bites.
Citronella based repellents are not recommended, as they do not protect you for very long. (NATHNAC)
Have a great trip and don’t forget…night, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!