Planning a trip to a mosquito zone? Take these precautions
Mosquitos are responsible for the spread of dangerous diseases all over the world, including the Zika virus, malaria, West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue. Every year, millions of people are infected. If you are planning a trip, whether close to home or in another country, it’s important to know the risks for the area where you will be traveling.
The three main types of mosquitos
To understand the possible threats, you need to know which types of mosquitos are dangerous and what diseases they may carry. A Mosquito World article states, “The most common [types of mosquitos], and most dangerous, are the various species in the Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes genera.”
“The most prevalent is the Culex pipiens, known as the northern house mosquito. It is the main carrier of West Nile virus,” according to Mosquito World.
- Breed mostly during the summer
- Lay their eggs on the surface of standing water
- Don’t normally travel more than a few hundred feet from where they’re hatched
- Feed from dusk until a few hours after dark
- Aggressive, persistent biters
- Prefer feeding on birds vs. people
“Anopheles mosquitoes are the carriers of the parasite that causes malaria … More than one million deaths each year are attributed to malaria,” according to Mosquito World.
- Breed during the warmer months
- Deposit eggs on the surface of water
- Prefer clean water habitats in marshes, swamps, and rice fields
- Feed from dusk till dawn
- Feed mostly on people and cattle
“Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, transmits dengue fever and eastern equine encephalitis, while Aedes aegypti … transmits dengue and yellow fever.”
- Lay their eggs on moist soil or in places that catch rainfall like treeholes, overflow ditches, and old tires
- Eggs hatch once the surface is flooded by water
- Adults feed day and night
Areas that are at risk for particular diseases
The Zika virus first originated in central Africa. It was discovered in 1947, but has since spread across the Atlantic and is now found in 35 countries in the Americas. Zika is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through sexual contact.
Malaria exists in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. It’s been mostly eradicated in temperate climates thanks to the advent of air conditioning, higher standards of living, and better mosquito control, though there are still some outbreaks in Northern Europe. There have also been some minor outbreaks in North America.
Today, yellow fever exists only in tropical areas of Africa and the Americas. It can be spread in both urban and jungle environments. “It is a rare illness of travelers anymore because most countries have regulations and requirements for yellow fever vaccination that must be met prior to entering the country,” according to the American Mosquito Control Association.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
EEE is found in freshwater hardwood swampland in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states in the eastern part of North America, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. The mosquitos feed on infected birds, become carriers of the disease, and then feed on humans, horses, and other mammals.
West Nile virus
West Nile first appeared in Africa in 1937 and then spread into Europe, the Middle East, West and Central Asia, and associated islands. It first appeared in North America (New York) in 1999, and by 2001, it had spread to over 27 states, Canada, and the Caribbean. Infectious zones continued to grow, and as of 2014, there were over 36,000 cases reported to the CDC.
4 ways to help prevent mosquito bites when traveling (and when you’re at home)
1. Find out the risks where you will be traveling.
Look for travel advisories in for the area (or country) where you will be traveling. Also, some countries require you to have a series of vaccinations before you go; be sure to find out the travel regulations. The CDC posts alerts, so always do your homework when planning a trip.
2. Use insect repellant.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is by using an EPA-registered insect repellant that has at least 20% DEET. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Higher percentages of the active ingredient provide longer-lasting protection. However, this increase in protection time maximizes at about 50% DEET.”
3. Cover exposed skin.
Always cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and hats when you’re outside, especially during hours when mosquitos are more likely to feed. You can also wear clothing that’s been treated with an insecticide called permethrin.
4. Know the conditions of your accommodations.
The precautions also extend to the place where you’re staying during the trip. According to the CDC, “Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress.”
Knowing the risks in the area where you are traveling and taking adequate protections can help protect you from potentially dangerous diseases. Platinum Mosquito Protection can safeguard you here at home – providing an automatic misting system to help eliminate these pests. For a free onsite consultation, please complete our convenient online form.