Bugs are a menace. At best, they make you itch and then you scratch. Sometimes you develop an allergic reaction or it gets infected. At worst, they can make you seriously ill.

Malaria causes more than 400 000 deaths every year and the majority of its victims are children under 5 years of age. More than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk of contracting Dengue fever. Malaria and Dengue fever are the most known of the infectious diseases transmitted between humans and from animals by bugs. Mosquitoes are not the only perpetrators, there’s also flies, sand flies, ticks, fleas and other lesser known transmitters of infection. There are more than 20 different known conditions that are caused by these insects globally.

With the right knowledge, planning and preparation you can offset these risks so that you and your family can relax and enjoy your holiday without having to worry about insects.
Here’s a checklist of things that you can do to help protect yourself and your family from insects so that you can all relax and enjoy your holiday:

Before you go

  • Get good advice. Read up on the area you are travelling to and the level of risk will be engaging with. You can find some useful information on the NHS Fit for Travel site.
  • Speak to a travel clinic about the area you are visiting, ideally 6-8 weeks in advance. When it comes to Malaria and Dengue, areas are classed as high, medium and low risk. Mosquitoes mutate and can become resistant to certain anti-malarial pills. A clinic will advise you on the right pills to take for your trip.
  • Find out whether there are any epidemics in the area and the implications for you and your family. For example, the current threat of Zika virus, transmitted by the Zika fly, in South America can pose a threat to pregnant women.
  • Make sure you get the vaccinations you need. For some countries, Yellow Fever vaccination is a mandatory requirement for entry. Yellow Fever is primarily transmitted via mosquitoes.
  • Choose the right repellent for the level of risk you are likely to encounter. The strongest repellents contain a chemical called DEET. The higher the DEET content, the stronger the protection, and it protects against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, leeches and chiggers. For medium risk areas, you will need a minimum of 50% DEET or 100% for high risk areas.
  • Invest in a good mosquito net. If you are unsure about the state of the mattress, coupling the net with an under sheet treated for bed bugs is a good idea, there’s no bite experience more unpleasant than bed bugs and they are more common than you would like to think, particularly in warmer climates.
  • Treat your clothes with repellent to create an extra layer of protection.

Tips for your trip

  • Wear long-sleeved tops and trousers to minimise your skin’s exposure to insects, particularly at dawn & dusk when they are at their most prevalent.
  • When applying repellent to your face, spray it first onto your hands and use them to apply it to your face, being careful to avoid lips and eyes.
  • Insects like areas densely populated with vegetation such as gardens, forests and jungle areas, so remain as much as possible in clearings or more built-up areas and burn repellent emitting coils outdoors in the evenings, placing them near your feet.
  • Alternatively, a battery powered portable insect killer is very effective and you don’t need a socket to plug it in so you can use it indoors or outside, which makes it great for when traveling off grid.
  • Ticks, bee and wasp stings can be removed using a tick remover card which fits neatly into your wallet.
  • Sleeping in a room with a fan, particularly an overhead fan, keeps the air around you moving and can help deflect insects and reduce bites.

Sit back, relax and enjoy an almost bugless holiday.

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