The renowned British medical journal, The Lancet, estimated that malaria killed 1.25m people in 2010 whilst at the same time over 225m people suffer from malaria.
People associate malaria with mosquitoes correctly but incorrectly associate all mosquitoes with malaria. Interestingly, malaria is a disease of the tropics only as the five types of parasitic malaria need warm and damp conditions to thrive. The parasite is transferred into the host when bitten. Strange some might think as the mosquito is meant to suck blood but the mechanics of the process mean that the mosquito injects the victim with the contents of its stomach which contain a blood thinning agent as well as the parasite, before sucking up the thinned blood.
So should we be worried about mosquito bites?
The healthcare profession says yes, for global warming has encouraged the spread of malaria and the similarly dangerous West Nile Virus to areas previously considered safe and doom merchants say that southern England is not far off being a malaria risk zone.
For now, take your finger off the panic button and instead rely on advice from your GP. They will have the latest information on malaria hotspots and advise as necessary whether a course of anti-malarial medication is required. It is expensive but compare the cost with the alternative of long term serious illness and potentially death and you’ll see how important it is to follow the advice carefully.
Even if you’re travelling outside a malaria zone you are likely to still have to put up with insect bites – from mosquitoes and other biting pests such as sand flies, midges and more. So is there an effective repellent?
For years commercially available preparations containing DEET have been said to have the greatest effect but there’s some concern over insects getting acclimatised to it, whilst the safety aspect of the chemical has been called into question several times.
Forums swear by vitamin B1, B12 or B15 – no one really seems to know which, whilst others say avoid perfume and aftershave and rub on Avon Skin So Soft, telling us that Avon’s biggest customer is the British Army! Citronella candles are also touted but the best advice still seems to be to cover up as much as possible when out at night and buy a cheap army surplus mosquito net that weighs next to nothing and can be hung from a ceiling light above your bed.
It does seem though that if you’re prone to attack, then the insects will find a way to get to you no matter what you do.