Insect Bites – Protecting Yourself from Diseases

2012 may have adventure written all over, if you are planning a trip of a lifetime or ticking those “to do” places off your list, organising and researching your destinations and itinerary are incredibly exciting, but have you considered your protection against insect bites and diseases?

Luckily in the UK, there is no threat of insect bite related diseases like the rest of the world, this article intends to provide you with information and advice for those travellers heading further afield for their holidays and adventures.

insect bite

(photo credit: dipdewdog)

If you have chosen to spend time in Europe during 2012 there are a few points to consider when it comes to insect bites. Although not a major area of concern, basic vaccinations including Tetanus and Polio should have been given at a young age.

If you are camping or staying near lakes, rivers or the coast in Europe and are concerned about insect bites, our advice is to ensure you take bite cream, spray or tea tree oil. Applying these to the bite reduces itching and swelling.

Throughout Asia and the Middle East, insect related diseases such as Malaria are more common. Malaria is also prevalent across Africa, South America, India, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Papa New Guinea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  If you choose to travel to these far-flung destinations, you should always consider seeing your doctor at least 3 months before you depart. They can arrange for the correct vaccinations depending on your destination.

Apart from injections, your doctor may prescribe Malaria Tablets, alternatively you can get them from on online pharmacy like Lloyds.  Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, which can be contracted through a mosquito bite in over 100 countries throughout the world. Taken properly, anti- Malaria tablets can prevent the disease. Failure to take the drug correctly can put you at risk.

Ways to prevent bites and stings on vacation:

  • Avoid heavy perfumes and scents.
  • Try to wear natural colours; bright colours attract insects.
  • When eating out, try to dispose of any strong smelling rubbish; consider citronella candles.
  • Cover your skin as much as possible with light clothing.
  • Apply insect repellent, consider areas such as ankles, wrists and neck.
  • Try to avoid swamps, areas of lying water and dense forests.
  • Always check exposed skin when returning from a day out.
  • In hotels and camps, use bed nets to prevent insects biting you at night.

If you have been bitten, seek medical help as soon as possible. Some vital signs of a bite are a raised red area, itching, pain and an allergic reaction. Symptoms of Malaria include a fever like illness with shaking and chills, muscle aches, headache and tiredness. You may suffer from nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Some strains of Malaria can cause jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, due to the lack of red blood cells. Some strains can cause kidney failure, confusion and could be fatal.

Symptoms of Malaria usually start 10 days to 4 weeks after the initial bite. Malaria can be treated with prescription drugs, so when returning from your vacation if you feel unwell or believe you have been bitten, see your doctor as soon as possible. Some people can fall ill up to a year after they have visited a country that has a Malaria threat. Like most other things, prevention is better than the cure in this case too.

Make sure you speak to your doctor if planning to visit a country outside of the UK and Europe. Also ensure you have all your vaccinations and take your Malaria tablets as prescribed.