Health tips for travellers: How to prevent insect bites
When are you at risk of insect bites?
Your risk of insect bites depends on various factors, such as destination, season and the length of your stay.
Mosquito breeding increases during rainfall, and you are therefore at higher risk of insect bites during the rainy season.
If you plan on travelling in rural areas, you also have an increased risk of being bitten, as there is generally a high concentration of insects here.
Being outdoors between dusk and dawn increases your risk of insect bites too, and this should therefore be avoided as much as possible while travelling.
If you are planning on travelling at an altitude above 2000 meters, insect bites are unlikely to occur, and the risk is therefore low here.
How can you prevent insect bites?
If you take precautions while you are away, you can prevent insect bites to a great extent.
As a rule of thumb, you should always carry a thermometer with you during your trip, as fever is one of the symptoms of many insect-borne diseases.
To protect yourself against mosquito bites, you should avoid stagnant or standing water, as mosquitoes are likely to breed here.
Products with strong perfume, for example soaps, may attract insects, and these should therefore also be avoided.
It is a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and long trousers that are tucked into your socks, so you avoid exposing your skin.
Spray or impregnate your clothes with insecticide, for example permethrin, and use DEET based insect repellents on exposed skin, as these are considered the most effective. You can also use DEET based insect repellent on natural fiber clothing.
In risk areas, you should use air conditioning where available or sleep in screened accommodation under a mosquito net that is impregnated with insecticide.
You can also use insecticide vaporisers inside and mosquito coils outside.If you happen to get a fever while travelling in an area with risk of malaria, it is very important that you react immediately and seek medical help. This is because fever can be a symptom of malaria, which is fatal if it’s not treated.
What should you be aware of after travel?
If you return home with a fever of 38 °C or more, or you experience other worrying symptoms after travel, you should seek medical help immediately.
Malaria symptoms can appear up to a year after travel, so it’s important that you are vigilant.
Mosquito bites can sometimes become infected, swollen, painful and red with pus where the bite has occurred. If you are concerned about the symptoms, you should contact your GP, as antibiotics may be required.
Why is it important to prevent insect bites?
You can become seriously ill if an infected insect bites you. As many of the diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine, it’s important that you take precautions to avoid becoming ill.
So, follow the above-stated prevention tips and stay healthy while you are away!
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