Keeping Malarial Mosquitoes Off Your Back

I don’t like mosquitoes.  They buzz in your ear, suck at your blood, and worst of all are carriers of malaria in tropical parts of the world.  Since no one likes malaria either, the name of the game is avoiding mosquitoes altogether.  My previous post talked about all the various prophylactic medications you can take, but there are other things you can do to lower the chances of an intimate rendezvous with a mosquito.  After all, it’s really just a game of statistics.

Buy Spray – The malarial mosquitoes are often a little bigger and a little nastier – so buy a bugspray that is also a little more potent.  You definitely want a spray with 5%-35% DEET.  DEET is the good stuff when it comes to insect repellent.

Wear Long Sleeves – I showed up in Africa like a complete rookie.  Logically (I thought) the weather would be hot and tropical, so I brought t-shirts and shorts.  Wrong.  I ended up wearing my one long-sleeve shirt and one pair of pants almost everyday.  Because of me, Americans must have an interesting fashion reputation in Yaounde. Anyway, I was constantly sweaty, but I left without malaria.  You should also wear light colors because mosquitoes are less attracted.

Mosquito Nets – You should have them.  None of the Cameroonians had them, and I also did have one, but it’s highly recommended. Rather be safe than sorry.  The nets should also be sprayed with either pyrethrum, which comes from chrysanthemums, or permethrin, its synthetic twin.  They’re basically just insecticides to create one additional layer of deterrence.

Indoors – Mosquitoes are active in the evening and night.  Be sure to shut windows later in the day and check the screens for major holes.  Prior to entering sleeping quarters, it’s also wise to spray the room with some insecticide to kill any loitering bugs.

The reality is that avoiding mosquito bites is nearly impossible, especially since the African ones I encountered were silent and bit you without causing a commotion. However, if you combine the ability of prophylactic meds and basic prevention techniques, you should be close to 99% safe.  And if you get malaria, it’s treatable and you’ll probably be fine.  Happy travels!

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