Our tips to protect against bug bites while travelling
They don’t photobomb your vacation pics, but unwanted bugs are certainly here, there and everywhere. Despite their size, insects can really make your life miserable. We offer our best recommendations to prevent bug bites.
Know thine enemy
There are hundreds of thousands of insect species in the world and we have learned to peacefully coexist with most of them.
A bite inflicted by most biting insects only causes a little discomfort, minor swelling or itching; it is unpleasant, sure, but only temporary. We are talking here about bed bugs, head lice and sand fleas.
Mosquitoes and ticks are the primary insect carriers of tropical diseases that represent a real danger to humans. It is mainly these pesky disease carriers that you need to protect yourself against.
Diseases on the radar
The most common and severe diseases transmitted by biting insects are malaria, yellow fever, Zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya virus. They are especially widespread in tropical regions: Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Ticks on the other hand can transmit Lyme disease and are found in our part of the world as well.
Before you leave, take the time to educate yourself about diseases present in the countries you plan to visit. The Canadian government’s Travel Advice and Advisories website is a great source of regularly updated information.
Immediately seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms in the days or weeks after your stay in an at-risk area: abnormal and persistent rash, high fever, headache, nausea, dizziness or muscle aches.
Are you thinking of heading to a tropical destination? Contact a travel health clinic for advice. They can determine your options based on the duration and type of trip you have in mind. A family at an all-inclusive resort will not be exposed to the same risks as an explorer on a three-month jungle adventure far from any hospital.
Every situation is different so make sure you are well informed and supported in your healthcare choices. For example, certain diseases like malaria are dangerous for adults, but affect children more severely. Others, such as the Zika virus, pose an increased risk for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It is therefore a smart idea for those women to avoid all travel to at-risk areas.
Prevention: medication, vaccines and other tips
Your travel health clinic or even your travel agent can help identify the right vaccines depending on your destination. Remember: the longer the vaccine list, the bigger the budget required. Again, your needs are determined based on the duration and type of trip. Important to note: some vaccines protect for life, others for only a few months at a time.
Malaria medications are in a category all their own. Potential side effects can range from general dizziness to hallucinations. Many travellers opt for other kinds of prevention – mosquito nets, protective clothing and insect repellent. Look into the options available to you.
Whether you choose to get vaccinated or not, the above-mentioned prevention resources are your best allies. Keep in mind that mosquitoes are mainly active between sunset and sunrise. Install mosquito nets around beds and cover up if you are going outside. When you are in the forest, wear long pants and footwear covering your ankles to avoid ticks and other pests. Always carry insect repellent.
Travel insurance, your partner of choice
Despite all of these precautions, nobody is immune from contracting a tropical disease or developing another kind of health problem while travelling abroad. This is why it is essential to obtain the appropriate travel insurance. Check if your protection includes repatriation insurance, which allows you to return home for medical treatment.
You will be leaving with peace of mind while thumbing your nose at mosquitoes.