Sussex Travel Clinic

Hove Clinic

01273 749100

Worthing Clinic

01903 254774

Mosquitoes, ticks and flies…Oh my!

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!

Did you know? Over 1 000 000 people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.

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.


You don’t get off lightly from tick bites either!


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.

Feeling ticked off?

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.




DID YOU KNOW? LYME DISEASE CAN BE FOUND IN THE UK – the known risk areas include Exmoor, the New Forest, the South Downs, the Lake District, the Yorkshire moors, the Scottish Highlands, much of Perthshire, the outer islands and rural areas.

 ….and as for flies?

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

 So what can I do to stop myself getting bitten?


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.

If you think that you or your children are reacting to an insect repellent, stop using it, wash treated skin and then seek advice from a doctor.

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.

So what doesn’t work as an insect repellent?

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)

And finally……….Look out for me too!

Dubia cockroach, Blaptica dubia, in front of white background                flea           Baby bedbug




To purchase insect repellents, clothing spray, nets and tick removers pop into one of our clinic branches in Hove or Worthing.


Have a great trip and don’t forget…night, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!


Written by Nicki Harrison – RGN- Lead Nurse



Sussex Travel Clinic stocks a wide range of mosquito nets and insect repellents. If you are travelling to an area where malaria is present you should sleep under an impregnated mosquito net. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that your net should be impregnated with long lasting impregnation. These nets protect you from mosquito bites by killing the mosquito on contact and the impregnation lasts for 2 years or over, making them ideal for long trips.

We stock a wide range of nets to suit all needs. If you are planning a camping trip then the pop up dome mosquito net would be ideal. The net simply pops up and down and is lightweight and easily transported if you are travelling around. Our best selling mosquito net for backpackers is the Lifesystems Ultra Net- this compact net is lightweight and includes a hanging kit.

Our range of insect repellents include everything from DEET 50+ and DEET 100+, to natural repellents such as Alfresco. If you are travelling to an area where malaria is present it is recommended that you use an insect repellent with DEET in it. The higher the concentrate of DEET, the longer the repellent will last on your skin.

Tips to avoid insect bites

  • Sleep under an impregnated mosquito net
  • Wear insect repellent on any exposed skin
  • Wear loose fitting and long clothing
  • If you have air conditioning – switch it on- mosquitoes do not like the cold air
  • Use a clothing treatment spray for extra protection
  • Use a plug- in mosquito repellent in your room

To purchase a mosquito net or insect repellent simply pop into clinic during our opening hours or buy ONLINE



Mosquitoes are the vector of malaria which is spread at night. They also spread other diseases such as; Dengue fever, Yellow fever, Japanese B encephalitis, St Louis encephalitis and Bancrofti and Filariasis. Some of these diseases are spread by daytime biting mosquitos. The best advice is to avoid mosquito bites.

Insect Bite Avoidance

  •  To avoid bites wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.
  •  Wear long-sleeved clothing and long trousers when going out at night.
  •  Protect feet with appropriate footwear.
  •  Use insect repellents on exposed skin.
  •  Insect repellents are available in various forms and concentrations.
  •  Many skin preparations are available, mostly containing di- ethyltoluamide  (DEET)
  • For those allergic to DEET, alternatives include Lifesystems Natural repellent.
  • Use a mosquito net when sleeping in unscreened accommodation. Mosquito nets should be impregnated with a long lasting insecticide. It can be helpful to practice erecting nets before departure.
  • Use air conditioning in your hotel room, if available.
  • If possible, avoid going out between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes spreading malaria commonly bite.
  • Use anti-mosquito insecticide dispensers (mains or battery operated that contain tablets impregnated with pyrethroids or burn pyrethroid mosquito coils in bedrooms at night) Electronic buzzer’s do not work.


It is essential to complete your course of malaria tablets to get full protection. Keep taking them when you get home as prescribed.

Initial symptoms of malaria can often be mild, difficult to recognise and can be confused with flu. If you develop flu-like symptoms once you return home, seek medical advice immediately and tell them you have recently returned from a malaria- risk zone. This will enable a speedy diagnosis and could potentially save your life.

We stock a full range of mosquito nets, insect repellents and other travel related equipment – ask your nurse for more details.