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Protect Yourself from Mosquito-Borne Illnesses When Abroad

In addition to being vaccinated and/or taking a pre-travel medicine regimen, travelers to countries where certain diseases are prevalent are advised to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses. Preventive measures are especially important in countries where Dengue Fever occurs, as there is currently no approved, effective vaccine for this mosquito-related illness. Other diseases transmitted by mosquitos include Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria and Yellow Fever.

Mosquito Bite Prevention Tips to Help Minimize Risk

  • Use Insect Repellent. Choose an insect repellant that contains DEET and apply liberally to all exposed skin, including feet and ankles. Reapply at least every three hours for maximum protection and more often if you are sweating or after swimming. If you are also using sunscreen, apply the DEET first and let it dry before applying the sunscreen. Products containing both are usually not as effective.

    Tips for the safe use of DEET:

    • Use a repellent that contains between 30 and 50 percent DEET. If using a lower concentration, apply more frequently.
    • Do not use DEET on your hands or face
    • Do not apply under clothing, only on exposed skin
    • Do not apply on broken skin
  • Cover Up. Even in very warm climates, it is important to cover as much skin as possible in order to maximize mosquito bite prevention. Choose loose-fitting clothing in earth tones vs. bright colors. Tuck pant legs into socks and avoid open-toed shoes whenever possible.
  • Stay Clean. Mosquitos are attracted to the chemicals excreted in sweat so taking frequent baths or showers using unscented soaps and shampoos will help keep them away. Also, avoid lotions that have a sweet, flowery scent as this can attract the insects.
  • Check Your Environment. Check the window screens in your hotel room and spray any holes you find with DEET. Whenever possible, use a mosquito net over your bed, tucking in the corners to keep it secured while you sleep. If staying in a more outdoorsy facility, check for and empty containers containing standing water to eliminate this popular breeding ground for mosquitos. When sitting outdoors, do not use bug zapper lights. They aren’t very effective against mosquitos but they do kill many insects who eat mosquitos. Burning mosquito coils or incense can also offer some protection.