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How to prevent mosquito bites (and ultimately malaria)

Rule Number 1: Take Anti-Malarial Tablets

While they are not 100 % efficient (no such medicine is), anti-malarial tablets are highly recommended for travellers exploring regions at risk.

Prophylactic malaria medicines are usually taken a few days to a week before departure, throughout the trip, and 1-4 weeks after travel as the malaria parasites could still be in one’s blood.

Malarone anti-malarial tablets in a box of 12!

Generally speaking, there are two types of anti-malarial medicines on the market: Mefloquine (such as Lariam or Mefaquin) and Atovaquone/Proguanil (like Malarone). Please consult your doctor beforehand as such products may cause severe and permanent side effects.

For sensitive people, a good alternative is Doxycycline. NB: Doxycycline makes you sunburn easily, so you should wear a hat, long sleeves and sunscreen whenever you are in outside daylight.

Rule Number 2: Use Mosquito Repellent

A good mosquito repellent is compulsory between 6 PM and 6 AM. Apply the product to the skin (around neck, arms, legs and ankles), and to clothing for best protection.

What is a good mosquito repellent?

The best mosquito repellent is a product that contains at least 20 % of DEET, the most active ingredient in insect repellents.

This particular example of mosquito repellent contains 30 % of DEET!

Effective alternatives to DEET oils include Citriodiol, nature’s most effective insect repellent (produced from eucalyptus Citriodora oil), Citronella or Picaridin. The latter is believed to be more pleasant to use, it is relatively odourless, and has a gentle, clean feel to it.

Rule Number 3: Sleep with a Mosquito Net

Sleeping with a mosquito net is also a great way to prevent mosquito bites, although it can be quite annoying when the insects get trapped underneath your apparel. 🙂 To further your chances of a good night sleep, spray your net with Permethrin.

Rule Number 4: Wear Long Sleeves and Pants After Dark

Try to “camouflage” yourself at both dusk and dawn, when the nasty little creatures are most active.

Also wear neutral colours (light-coloured clothing), as dark colours tend to attract the insects.

Rule Number 5: Control your Diet

Do you have a sweet tooth? Because mosquitoes are very fond of sugar, their major fuel for energy and flight. In other words, people with higher sugar intake will arguably be more prone to mosquito bites.

Mosquito going for the bite: a “refreshful” treat!

Might be a good excuse to start a little “regime” and avoid some of those cakes and yummy pastries! 😉 Most sweet rolls contain yeast that, once exuded through the pores, alters one’s smell. Mosquitoes can pick up those odors from miles away!

Other Useful Tips

  • Switch off unnecessary lighting, as mosquitoes are attracted to it.
  • Use mosquito coils under your bed or dining table to repel the insects. Mosquito coils are highly effective (despite their somewhat uninviting smell), and can last as much as 8 hours.
  • Don’t use too much perfume, deodorant or after-shave. Mosquitoes are more attracted to it than anyone else around you!

Did You Know? Interesting Mosquito-Related Facts

  • Mosquitoes can literally “smell” your blood from as far as 50 m away.
  • Only the female mosquito feeds on human blood, which contains protein used by the insect to lay its eggs. Consequently, only female specimens transmit the malaria disease.
  • A common misconception states that “mosquitoes can transmit the HIV virus”, yet this is not true. In fact, HIV cannot survive in the mosquito.
  • Presently, over 350-500 million cases of malaria are being reported each year, out of which over 1 million are deadly.

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4 Responses to How to prevent mosquito bites (and ultimately malaria)

  1. Gaja March 29, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    Very good insight on Mosquitoes nature and bites. I read in some article long time back but not sure that a student from Chennai has found that a forest insect can kill mosquitoes and it could be implemented in residential areas during winter season to kill mosquitoes.

    • Michael Theys March 31, 2017 at 10:06 am #

      Thanks for sharing Gaja, that’s interesting. Do you remember the name of the forest insect?

      It could be an approach worth testing, though my main concern would be about the possible repercussions of the introduced insect on the environment.

      Is this insect safe for people and the surrounding environment?

      Personally, I think that all organisms have their role to play in nature. Whether it’s mosquitoes, crows or whales.

      Trying to control the environment is of no use as in the end it will always have the upper hand.

      Cheers,

      Michael

  2. Johan Knols November 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Hallo Michael,

    #5: Mosquitos are not attracted by what we eat. It is the way that bacteria break down emissions from our pores. So called ‘old sweat’ (with lots of bacteria) is highly attractive for mosquitos.
    Therefore tourists can eat as much sugar as they like.

    By the way, mossies can also not smell from 50 KMs but from roughly 30-50 METERS.

    I can recommend a very nice book on this topic (in Dutch):
    http://www.nieuwamsterdam.nl/boekuitgave.aspx?id=1597

    • Africafreak November 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

      Hi Johan,

      Thanks for all these precisions, appreciate it. 🙂

      About the “eating sugar” bit, there are lots of theories around the subject, but the one highlighted above is most definitely part of the discussion.

      As far as the “smell” concern, my mistake (and it is a huge one indeed lol), thanks a million for pointing that one out! OOPS: you saved me BIG time on that one! 🙂

      Cheers!

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