Insect- and tick-borne disease while travelling
Many travel-related diseases, like dengue fever, malaria or tick-borne encephalitis, are transmitted by infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. Be aware of peak biting times (e.g. daytime vs. night-time biting mosquitoes) and areas (e.g. indoor vs. outdoor, rural vs. urban) in which certain insects may appear. Scorpions and biting spiders can also pose a risk in hot climates. Your first line of protection against any insect- or tick-borne disease is to practise protective measures to avoid insect bites:
- Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirts that are tucked in at the waist, long pants, shoes (not sandals) and a hat to cover exposed skin. In tick-infested areas, you can also tuck the cuffs of your pants into your socks, shoes or boots and tape them in place. Use insect repellent on exposed skin. Insect repellents containing DEET or Icaridin (also called Picaridin) are the most effective; use as directed by the manufacturer. Apply sunscreen first, if needed, followed by the repellent.
- Stay in well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned rooms or sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net.
- Inspect your body and clothing for ticks during outdoor activity and at the end of the day. Wear light-coloured or white clothing so that ticks can be more easily seen.
- Apply a permethrin insecticide to your clothing and other travel gear for greater protection. Use only products manufactured for clothing and gear and don’t use them directly on skin. Permethrin-treated clothing is effective through several washes. Although permethrin-treated products aren’t readily available in Canada, a travel health clinic can advise you how to purchase permethrin and pre-treated gear before or during your trip.