As the Zika virus spreads, mosquitoes have gone from bothersome pests to feared disease-carriers. Whether you are traveling to a Zika-infected region, or just want to dodge bug bites, fight back with these eight tips.
Mosquitoes are just the worst. These buzzing insects have such claims to fame as drinking up to three times their weight in blood, possessing saliva that induces allergic reactions, and laying up to 300 eggs at a time (gross!).
Now that the mosquito-borne Zika virus has become a worldwide concern, it’s a reminder that these barbecue-crashing insects are more than just annoying: They’re also dangerous. Mosquitoes spread serious and sometimes fatal diseases including Zika virus, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile virus. In fact, more than one million people die from mosquito-borne illnesses each year.
Mosquitoes are certainly a threat, but there are relatively easy ways to lower your chances of getting a bite. If you are planning a trip to the tropics or another area affected by mosquito-borne illnesses, keep yourself safe with these eight mosquito-fighting tips.
1. Wear Insect Repellant
Sometimes the best answer is the most obvious one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists wearing insect repellent as the top way to prevent mosquito-spread diseases, and considers it safe for children and pregnant women. So fill your toiletry kit with insect repellants that contain DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), PDE, or IR3535. Repellants with 20 percent DEET protect the wearer for approximately five hours, while other plant-based repellants have not proven to be as effective.
2. Dress to Repel
If your skin tends to be a buffet for mosquitoes, wear protective clothing. Pack long sleeves, pants, and socks in your bag—even if your trip calls for warm weather—and stick to light colors, which are slightly less attractive to mosquitoes than black and navy. Get extra protection out of your clothing by treating it with Permethrin before your travels. Sadly, a mosquito repellant outfit isn’t always the most fashionable look: Tuck your pants into your socks when walking through areas that are highly concentrated with mosquitoes.
3. Shut the Windows
Before dozing off to the sounds of ocean waves through your open windows, do a thorough check to make sure that the screens are intact and have no tears or mosquito-sized openings. The safest bet is to sleep with the windows shut and the air conditioning on.
4. Hang Mosquito Netting
Not every accommodation has the luxury of air conditioning. For those that don’t—or for an extra layer of protection—surround your bed with mosquito netting when you turn in for the night. Prepare in advance by packing a travel mosquito net in your travel pack.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of sweat, which is not great news if you're going on a summer getaway to a humid climate or if you love exercising outdoors. Make sure to shower after hikes or workouts, and at least rinse off from the day before any al fresco dinners (lest you become an al frescodinner yourself).
6. Avoid Still Water
Mosquitoes tend to congregate around stagnant water, such as lakes or creeks. If you absolutely must cool off in one of these bodies of water, get in, get out, and then reapply your insect repellant. When it comes to warding off stagnant water in your travel pack, separate wet items from dry items in a packing organizer that has dual compartments, such as the Pack-It Sport™ Wet Dry Fitness Locker.
7. Watch Out for Mosquito Happy Hour
For outdoor enthusiasts, it can be difficult to avoid the two "happy hours" that mosquitoes host for themselves each day at dawn and at dusk. These times are, after all, when you can enjoy outdoor hikes and activities without as much concern about the sun’s skin damaging rays. Take extra precautions during these prime mosquito meal times, and reapply your trusty insect repellant.
8. Consult Your Doctor
There is no precaution that you can take that will guarantee that you don’t get bitten by a mosquito. If you are going to a region where malaria, Japanese encephalitis, or yellow fever is prevalent, talk to your doctor to see whether a vaccine or medication is the right prevention for you. Not all mosquito-borne illnesses—such as Zika virus—have preventative medications or vaccines available. Always weigh these medical risks when deciding on your travel plans.
Do you have a mosquito prevention item or technique that you use? Share it in the comments below!
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
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