Insect bites

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Mosquito bites usually are not a disease in themselves, but they can cause serious illnesses – malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, zika − which is why we have included them in this section.

What doctors can do

  • Encourage the use of insect repellents most of these contain a chemical called DEET. This can be absorbed through the skin, especially in children, and it has been shown to be toxic to the brains in rats and some people have reported memory loss, headache and muscle and joint pains. Other repellents recommenmded by the CDC include picaradin, oil of lemon eucaliptus,  and 2 undecanone. (Dont use repellents on bbies under 2 months.  Clothes that cover all areas and netting over cribs.)  The CDC pamphlet is very good (click here).
  • Permethrin treated clothing and gear – this is a synthetic compound which causes nerve damage to insects, and is sprayed on clothes and bedding. It is relatively non toxic to humans. The insects either leave or if they stay they die.
  • Vaccination against insect-borne diseases prevalent in the area you are travelling to.

What you can do

  • Use mosquito nets at night, wear long trousers and tuck them into your socks, and wear long sleeve shirts in the evening.
  • Take Vitamin B1 (at least 100mg) daily, mosquitoes don’t like it.
  • Don’t eat bananas! mosquitoes love this flavour on you.
  • Good natural insect repellents include – Vick’s vapour rub, citronella soap or oil, catnip oil, oil of lemon eucalyptus, fennel, thyme, clove oil, neem oil.
  • It has been suggested that spraying Listerene mouth wash on the ground near BBQs and where people are sitting will keep insects away for days. We have never tried it yet, but the recommendation came from a reliable source, and it can do no harm.
  • Plant marigolds round your yard, mosquitoes don’t like the smell of the flowers.
  • Avoid areas where there is stagnant water. If you have a pond or water trough, put goldfish or guppies into it because they will eat the mosquito larvae. Weekly check the area for planters, pots, ponds etc and empty.
  • Electronic repellents give off a frequency similar to male mosquitoes and so attract the biting females to their doom.
  • Get a pet frog!