What do you picture when you think of the world’s deadliest animal? Razor sharp fangs, massive claws, and a ferocious growl? Try again! The deadliest creature on earth, in terms of deaths per year, is actually the mosquito. This seemingly insignificant pest carries diseases such as malaria, the zika virus, and yellow fever. The World Health Organization estimates that over a million deaths are caused by diseases spread by mosquitoes each year. Many of these incidents are concentrated to the hot, humid regions of Africa, Asia and South America. If you are traveling to a destination where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent, there are several precautionary measures you can take in addition to getting the recommended vaccinations. These are just a few helpful items you should pack to help protect yourself as you go!
1. The right clothing
Mosquitoes thrive in warm, moist conditions. This can make it difficult to dress in a way that protects your skin against mosquitoes while trying to keep cool and comfortable. Try to wear pants and long sleeves made of tightly woven fabrics that are larger than needed to give your some breathing room. Synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and rayon are best. You can also purchase clothing specifically designed to repel or prevent insect bites through brands such as Nobitech and Insect Shield.
2. Mesh netting
If you’re unsure what your accommodations will look like or know you will have open windows/outdoor exposure, mosquito netting is a must-have for night time protection. Get a circular net for two or this square net to cover a single bed or cot.
3. Spray for gear and clothing
This powerful spray is designed to coat clothing and outdoor gear from even the most resilient varieties of mosquitoes. This spray is odorless once it has dried and will provide protection for up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings).
4. Deet-free mosquito wristbands
These mosquito-repelling wristbands are perfect for travel! They are deet-free, using natural oils to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. Snap them on your wrists whenever you need a little extra protection.
5. Natural insect repellent
DEET, is of course, one of the most effective repellents. If it doesn’t agree with your skin, try a homemade essential oil blend such as lavender, tea tree or thyme. Make sure to blend these with a carrier oil such as almond or avocado oil so you do not irritate your skin. You can also purchase an herbal spray such as this one from Burt’s Bees or this lemon eucalyptus spray. If you will also be wearing sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and the repellent second for maximum effectiveness.
6. Repellent wipes
For protection on sensitive areas of your skin, such as your neck or face, look for gentle repellent wipes. The Skin So Soft Bug Guard wipes by Avon are DEET-free, oil-free and protect against mosquitoes and deer ticks.
7. Citronella candle
A few well-placed citronella candles can help keep mosquitoes away during their most active hours. These are most effective in areas where there is little air movement such as covered patio or by an open window. They are much less effective in a completely open area. Be sure to ask your host organization if it is ok to light them!
8. Anti-itch cream
Don’t forget to include anti-itch cream in your first aid kit. After Bite Itch Eraser, Calamine lotion, or hydrocortizone cream work well. Be aware that these treatments are not effective against mosquito-borne diseases, they are only meant to relieve itching. If you think you are ill or notice your bites worsen, see a doctor immediately.