Mosquito bite avoidance

At your travel health consultation, you can ask for advice on avoiding mosquito bites. Not only are mosquito bites uncomfortable and itchy, but mosquitoes are vectors (carriers) of several dangerous microorganisms (parasites, viruses, or bacteria) that can cause serious or even fatal illnesses in humans.

What diseases are spread by mosquito bites?

Plasmodium, which causes malaria, botflies, whose larvae live in your skin, and the filariasis worm, which causes the disfiguring disease elephantiasis, are all mosquito-borne parasites.

Dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Chikungunya, Zika fever, and various forms of encephalitis, including Japanese encephalitis, are all caused by mosquito-borne viruses.

Tularaemia is a mosquito-borne bacterial infection. It causes skin ulcers as well as fever.

In many countries where these diseases occur, the authorities will use sprays to disrupt the lifecycle of mosquitoes. To control the larvae, residents will, of course, cover water receptacles and clear gutters and drains.

Vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever are available (and note that you may need a yellow fever certificate to enter some countries). You can also take antimalarial medicationlearn more in our article on malaria. However, you must also practise mosquito-bite avoidance because antimalarials and vaccines do not provide complete protection, and mosquitoes also carry diseases that are not vaccine preventable.

Why are mosquito bites itchy?

Mosquito bites are itchy because of your body’s immune response, and the small bump that forms is known as a hive. The immune response causes capillaries to break, allowing fluid to collect beneath the skin. Ask a pharmacist to recommend over-the-counter remedies to relive the itch of mosquito and insect bites.

Do I need to avoid mosquito bites at all times?

It is important to note that if you are at risk of Dengue or Chikungunya, you should take precautions during the day, and if you are at risk of malaria, you should take precautions at night. At your travel health consultation, you can find out which diseases are a risk at your holiday destination and make choices about the most important times to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Which insect repellent should I buy?

The most effective mosquito repellent is 20% DEET, which will keep you protected for about three hours. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, you should reapply it more frequently. Apply sunscreen first, followed by DEET. Remember that DEET can reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen, so use one with a factor of 30 or higher. Keep DEET insect repellent away from your eyes, mouth, and any broken skin. According to Travel Health Pro’s advice on avoiding insect and tick bites, 20 percent DEET is safe during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and for babies older than two months.

Dress to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes

To stop mosquitoes from biting you, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your limbs. You may want to treat your trouser and sleeve cuffs with 20% DEET, but keep in mind that DEET can melt synthetic fibres.

Mosquito-proof your sleeping space

An air-conditioned room with closed windows is the most mosquito-proof sleeping environment. If you cannot get an air-conditioned room, look for accommodation with window screens that are in good condition. And, if the room comes with bed nets, use them: they’re not just to look pretty! If you plan to sleep outside, consider purchasing a portable net; they are inexpensive and easy to transport.

Get vaccinated against insect-borne diseases

If you need malaria prophylaxis, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis shots, or other travel vaccinations, make an appointment for a travel health consultation with NX Healthcare. We have many city-centre travel clinic branches and it is quick and easy to make an appointment with us.

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