Before you travel there are precautions you should take to ensure you have a safe trip, reducing you and your family’s risk of contracting a serious insect-borne disease.
Medications for diseases and anti-malaria tablets do not provide 100% protection, so it is best to avoid being bitten in the first place.
Consult a doctor or healthcare professional for advice 8-10 weeks before travel
Wear long sleeved clothing to reduce exposed areas
Use a powerful insect repellent spray like Protect on exposed skin
Sleep under a treated mosquito net
Choose bite prevention products specific to your type of travel and destination
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Zika Virus a global public health emergency. The infection is thought to be linked to Microcephaly a serious birth defect in babies. This is where a baby is born with an abnormally small head due to brain development problems.
Zika Virus occurs in a number of tropical countries where the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is found and there is currently a large outbreak in Brazil. Infected mosquitoes carry the disease from person to person. In adults the symptoms of the virus usually include a mild flu-like illness, headache, joint and muscle pain, red eyes and a rash. However, it is the serious consequences for babies who contract the virus from their mothers that is of greatest concern.
Pregnant women are being advised to avoid travelling to areas with Zika Virus.
Malaria is a serious health risk for 3.2 billion people, half of the world’s population. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites infecting the blood and is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes.
It is a preventable and curable disease, however it can lead to fatalities if not treated quickly. Symptoms can include fever, excessive sweating, flu-like illness, nausea and later seizures, kidney failure, coma and death. Once in the bloodstream the Malaria parasite can lie dormant for up to one year, so it is always best to tell your doctor where you have travelled within the last year or two. Find out more >>
High Risk Malarial Areas
Chikungunya Fever is a debilitating disease with no vaccine available. In 2015 alone, large outbreaks of Chikungunya Fever were found in the Caribbean, and the actress Lindsay Lohan was affected while on holiday. Spread by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito that often bite during the day, it is also commonly found in South-East Asia, Africa, the Indian sub-continent and the Philippines.
Chikungunya can lead to fever, vomiting, headache, fatigue and severe joint and muscle pain. Although debilitating, the disease is not normally fatal. Find out more >>
Another disease caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito is Dengue Fever, which is most common following the monsoon season when mosquitoes actively breed. The virus is widespread in many urban and rural areas in tropical and sub-tropical regions. This illness has a relatively short incubation period of 3-8 days and is rarely life-threatening. Sudden fever and crippling joint and muscle pains can occur.
In very rare cases, a severe form of the disease known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) may present itself when the blood vessels become infected, with severe temperature, skin rash and later death. No vaccine is available so prevention is vital. Find out more >>
WEST NILE VIRUS
Spread to humans via infected Culex mosquitoes that feed at dusk and dawn, Dengue Fever is a global virus that has been increasing since the 1990s. Generally it is a mild illness with some people presenting no symptoms. However for about 1 in 100 people with the virus, a severe infection can develop leading to Encephalitis which can be fatal. There is no specific treatment, prevention is key. Find out more >>
An often fatal disease with a vaccine available for travellers visiting high-risk areas. Found frequently in Central and South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa, Yellow Fever is spread by two types of mosquito; Aedes aegypti and Rainforest mosquitoes. Always get advice from a doctor or travel health clinic 8-10 weeks before travel. Find out more >>
A worm infestation spread by many mosquitoes! This disease presents varied symptoms, from inflammation and the swelling of limbs, to blindness in severe cases. With no vaccine available, drug treatment can be given if found before the disease gets to an advanced stage. Find out more >>
JAPANESE B ENCEPHALITIS
Mainly found in East and South East Asia, this virus is caused by the Culex mosquito which is most active at dusk and dawn. Two vaccines are available in the UK prior to travel. General insect bite precautions should also be taken including sleeping under a mosquito net at night. It is a serious disease and about 30% of cases lead to death, resulting from inflammation of the brain. Most common is a flu-like illness. Find out more >>
EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE)
A rare and deadly infection with a high death rate and no vaccine available. EEE is caused mainly by salt marsh mosquitoes, common in swamp lake areas. This disease can be found in popular holiday destinations such as Florida and New Jersey, as well as Canada, the Caribbean and South America. No drug treatment is available once the disease in contracted, making it essential to take insect protection. Find out more >>
RIFT VALLEY FEVER
A viral disease found in Africa and the Middle East, harboured by animals and contracted through infected mosquito bites. RVF was first discovered in the Rift Valley in Kenya in 1931. Flu-like symptoms, vomiting, neck stiffness, loss of appetite and a dislike of bright light can occur. Very rarely this fever can lead to death. No specific treatment or vaccine is available. Take precautions against mosquito bites and be careful not to consume raw or undercooked meat and un-pasteurised milk. Find out more >>
Lyme Disease, otherwise known as Borreliosis, is caused by an infected tick bite carrying Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. This disease is not just a risk to travellers going abroad.
It can be contracted in the UK, large parts of Europe and the USA. Particularly if you are walking anywhere where there is long grass, ticks can latch onto your skin and bite you. A tick bite can be painless, so after camping or walking outdoors always check your skin for ticks and remove any found immediately with a tick removal tool.
A red rash can develop on the skin, as well as flu-symptoms, and later muscle aches and arthritis which can occur intermittently during the lifetime of an infected person. Early diagnosis means the disease can be treated through antibiotics, however in serious cases organ failure can occur. It is vital to use a tick repellent to prevent tick bites in the first instance. Recent high-profile cases of the disease have highlighted the need for protection; the singer Avril Lavigne was left bed-ridden for months.