Insect-borne Diseases

In many countries insects carry dangerous, sometimes fatal diseases. While mosquitoes pose the main risk to travellers, bites from sand flies, ticks, fleas, and even bedbugs can transmit diseases.

Among the more common mosquito-borne diseases are Malaria, Dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus, Ross River virus, and West Nile virus, while less common diseases include Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis.

Insect-borne diseases are mainly found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of developing countries. However, international travel and trade coupled with climate change, has seen the vectors (insects) extend their reach into temperate regions of developing and developed countries.

Taking measures to prevent bites is more important than ever in protection against insect-borne diseases.

Prevention: Insect Avoidance Checklist

Sleep in insect-proof accommodation. Sleep inside a mosquito net, preferably one impregnated with permethrin.

If bedbugs are suspected, move the bed away from the walls and leave a light on as bedbugs are most active in the dark. Sleep in sheets impregnated with permethrin to further reduce attacks.

It is recommended to wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants when outdoors after sunset. Day-biting mosquitoes can also transmit diseases such as dengue.

Avoid dark-coloured clothing and strong scents such as perfume, aftershave and perfumed cosmetics/deodorants as these may attract mosquitoes. The safest colours to wear are beige or khaki.

Use personal repellents on exposed skin. The most effective mosquito repellents contain DEET. Repel Tropical Strength repellents contain 30-40% DEET which is considered optimum for adults. Higher concentrations of DEET do not offer significantly increased protection. Reapply your personal insect repellent regularly. Repel Junior has much lower DEET concentration and is safer to use on children but must be applied more frequently.

Remember to apply insect repellents AFTER you apply your sunscreen.

Soak clothing, mosquito nets, sleep sheets and tents in permethrin prior to travel. This is a practical and easy method and kills bedbugs, lice, fleas, mites, ticks, flies, mosquitoes and bees. Permethrin kills insects on contact and yet is safe to humans, colourless, odourless and biodegradable.

Travel Doctor-TMVC has a range of insect avoidance materials available for purchase including Repel insect repellent in various strengths, mosquito nets, Permethrin Debugger kit and sleeping bag liners. For a full list of the items available – contact your local Travel Doctor-TMVC clinic

List of Diseases: