Gear-Zone Guide to Travel 1: Mosquitoes, Malaria and Insect Repellents
Posted by Neil | June 08, 2011
One bite from an infected mosquito is all it takes…
Each year, up to 2,000 travellers from Britain return home with some form of malaria. Untreated, it can be fatal – on average nine people every year die from malaria in this country.
The UK is, amazingly, one of the biggest importers of malaria among civilised countries, and yet it only takes a few simple steps to stop it happening at all.
The most severe form of malaria is Plasmodium Falciparum, which left untreated can be deadly as the mosquito’s poison works its way into the bloodstream. Prevention though, is so very simple.
What To Do Before You Go
Seek professional advice before travelling. There is no vaccine against malaria, only anti-malarial tablets which must be taken before, during and after your visit. Talk to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist well in advance.
What To Do When You’re There
Expedition 100+ insect repellent from Lifesystems gives maximum protection in a DEET-based spray – an alternative Expedition 50+ is effective in countries where you are at a lesser risk of contracting the disease. Applied directly to the skin or clothing, where its chemical smell alone deters the mosquito, 100% DEET repellent gives up to 10 hours’ protection.
What Is DEET?
The most effective spray-on repellents are based on Diethyl-meta-toluamide. Designed specially for travellers to countries most likely to be affected by disease-carrying insects, it was developed by the US Army following their jungle warfare experiences during World War II.
Natural pyrethroids in the formulae act as a contact repellent – any insect actually landing on the skin is deterred from biting.
It is worth noting that insect-repellent sprays don’t just protect against mosquitoes. Horseflies, midges, gnats, fleas and ticks are also kept at arm’s length, along with the silent-but-deadly sandfly, bearer of the terrible leishmaniasis disease.
Most prevalent in household pets in hot climates – where they are especially vulnerable between dusk and dawn – leish is normally spread by the sandfly to dogs, causing their vital organs to shut down. But be aware, the disease can also spread to humans with devastating consequences.
Tick bites too can quickly spread disease, including rickettsioses, meningoencephalitis and Lyme disease. And the danger of mosquitoes is not limited to malaria – they can also transmit dengue fever and West Nile virus.
Insect sprays, though, are not the end of the story.
Travel mosquito nets are also imperative in keeping insects at bay. Lifesystems’ range of mosquito nets feature built-in skirts that fold under mattresses for total protection, and are impregnated with their long-lasting Ex8 anti-mosquito treatment for added peace of mind. The treatment will last for two years or 35 washes, and is guaranteed to deter any flying insect from going anywhere near your sleeping area.
Plug-in mosquito killers also give an added layer of protection against all flying insects. And if you find yourself nowhere near an electricity supply, Lifesystems can still help with their anti-mosquito smoke coils. These will burn for up to eight hours at a time, but should only be used in the open air.
Constant testing and scientific research by Lifesystems over the last 20 years keeps them at the fore-front of travel health care. Every Lifesystems product has been designed in conjunction with doctors, experts, medical teams and mountain rescue services, before being tested at the London School of Tropical Medicine.
If you know you are travelling to an area where the risk of malaria is high, seek immediate attention in the event of any fever or flu-like symptoms.
Keep your skin covered at all times– but especially between sunset and sunrise.
Use insect repellent on clothes and exposed skin.
Always sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide.
If possible, sleep with air conditioning in the background – the lower temperatures keep mosquitoes away.
Don't apply DEET directly onto synthetic clothing as it can melt the fabric - this also includes watch straps. Only use on cotton and wool.
For more information, go to http://www.big-planet.co.uk/riskareas.php?riskarea=malaria&redirect=true#nav