Mosquitoes are in the headlines again. This time, the pesky insects are reported to be carrying a disease known as cat-flea typhus - an infection caused by the bacteria Rickettsia felis.
Very little is known about the illness and its symptoms are so similar to other diseases that it’s hard to diagnose. But when mosquitoes were allowed to feed on mice infected with Rickettsia felis, scientists found the bugs could then pass on the disease.
Many of us will be preparing to go on holiday – some to areas where malaria, perhaps the most well-known of the diseases mosquitoes can spread is virulent – but according to research by Pyramid Travel Products 78% of people aren’t aware of how to protect themselves from being bitten, and only 30% of travellers saw insect repellent as an essential item to pack in the suitcase.
“There is nothing worse than being badly bitten on your first night away, then suffering for the rest of your holiday,” says Nicola Cameron from Pyramid Travel Products.
“It’s all about preparation: pack well and while you're on holiday, make sure you and your family take precautions to stop being bitten.”
There’s plenty you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Just follow these tips from Nicola and LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist Kajal Ruda…
“Mosquitoes dwell in hot places and so it’s tempting to wear as little as possible to stay cool,” says Kajal.
“Stay covered up as much as possible, particularly at times of day when mosquitoes and other insects are most active, like sunrise and sunset – wear loose fitting trousers rather and shorts, and wear shirts with long sleeves. The other benefit of covering up is that you’ll keep your skin protected from the sun.”
“Avoid dark clothing as it is more likely to attract mosquitoes,” Nicola Cameron advises.
“If possible stay somewhere that has effective air conditioning and screening on doors and windows,” says Kajal.
“Using a mosquito net is a great way to stop you getting bitten while you sleep. Travel friendly mosquito nets are really handy to take with you on holiday,” says Kajal.
Mozzies are attracted by the smell of sweat, says Nicola, so make sure you “wash regularly and don’t wear perfume or strong scents as insects love them”.
Swim in the sea, not in lakes
“Avoid stagnant water,” says Kajal. “Mosquitoes really like this kind of still water found in lakes, marshes and creeks, so if you need to cool off, stick to the sea.”
Nicola says: “Choose a room above the third floor if you can. Mosquitoes and sand-flies tend to fly at lower levels.”
“Insect repellents are a really effective way to keep away bugs including mosquitoes,” says Kajal, who recommends Jungle Formula Insect Repellent Maximum Pump Spray.
“The main danger of being bitten by a mosquito in certain countries is the risk of getting malaria,” says Kajal. “Before you travel, check whether you need to take any preventative medications for that country and if you do be sure to take every dose. It just takes one bite from an infected mosquito!”
“Yellow fever is another disease spread by certain types of mosquitoes and it’s mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and parts of the Caribbean, but you can be vaccinated against this before you travel,” says Kajal.