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Mosquito avoidance

Mosquito avoidance
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4 easy ways to avoid mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquito bites are irritatingly itchy – that’s your body’s immune response to the bite, and the little bump that forms is called a hive. The immune response breaks capillaries so that fluid collects under the skin. As well as causing an annoying itch, mosquitoes are vectors (carriers) of several dangerous microorganisms (parasites, viruses or bacteria) that can cause serious or even fatal illnesses in humans.

Mosquito-borne parasites include: Plasmodium that causes malaria; botflies, whose larvae live in your skin; and the filariasis worm, which causes the disfiguring disease elephantiasis; and dirofilarial parasites.

Viruses carried by mosquitoes cause Dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Chikungunya, Zika fever, various forms of encephalitis, including Japanese encephalitis.

Tularaemia is a bacterial infection spread by mosquitoes. It causes skin ulcers and fever.

In many regions where these diseases occur the authorities will be quietly disrupting the mosquitoes’ lifecycle with spraying. As a matter of course, residents will be covering water receptacles and clearing gutters and drains to control the larvae.

However, you also need to do your bit to dodge these infections. Vaccines are available forJapanese encephalitisand yellow fever (and note that you may need a yellow fever certificate to enter some countries). You can take anti-malarial tablets, too. But you need to complement these actions by practising personal mosquito bite avoidance. Here is what you need to do:

1.       Timing is everything

Note that if there is a risk of Dengue or Chikungunya, you should take precautions during the day; and where there is a risk of malaria, you should take precautions at night.

2.       Insect repellent

The most effective mosquito repellent is 20% DEET, which will protect you for about three hours. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, then it needs to be reapplied more often. Apply your sunscreen first, and then apply DEET. Annoyingly, DEET makes sunscreen less effective, but you should be all right at factor 30 or above. Keep it out of your eyes and mouth, and away from any broken skin. Travel Health Pro in its advice on insect and tick bite avoidance says that 20% DEET is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding and for babies older than two months.

3.       Dress for mosquito-avoidance

You can beat mosquitoes with loose-fitting clothing that has good limb coverage. You may wish to treat your cuffs with 20% DEET – but be aware that DEET can melt artificial fibres.

4.       Screens and nets

The most mosquito-proof sleeping space is an air-conditioned room with closed windows. Failing that, look for window screens, but make sure they are in good repair. And if the room comes with bednets, use them: they are not just there to look pretty! If you will be sleeping outside, consider investing in a portable net – they are fairly cheap and very light to carry.

5.       Get the shots

If you need malaria prophylaxis, shots for yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis as well as other travel vaccinations, visit us at Global Travel Clinics.