Insect Mosquito Born Diseases Information

Diseases spread by biting insects include malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever (no vaccine available), Japanese B encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis (vaccine not available in Australia). Avoiding bites is the best way to prevent these diseases, regardless of your travel destination.

Malaria prevention

Malaria is an illness caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of a female anopheline mosquito during dusk to dawn hours. There are four species of malaria-causing parasites, one is rapidly fatal, while others can cause recurrent episodes over years. Any fever experienced by a person in or up to 12 months after leaving a malaria area should be suspected as malaria unless proven otherwise.

Anti-malaria medication is available in a number of forms and is prescribed by your travel health doctor based on factors such as country or part of country to be visited, standard of accommodation, rural travel, length of time in a malaria area, age of client and personal medical history. Medications reduce risk, but do not necessary prevent you contracting malaria, thus anti mosquito biting measures are also vital.

To avoid mosquito bites:

Avoid going out between dusk and dawn.
Wear light colored, long sleeve tops and trousers.
Avoid wearing strong perfumes or after-shaves.

Use an effective insect repellent. It must contain adequate amounts of the active ingredient DEET (diethyltoluarride) 50-80%. Effectiveness ranges from one to several hours depending on concentration, and is affected by sweating, swimming, rain or wiping of the skin. Long term use may cause toxicity. Examples of suitable repellents include Bushman's gel and RID.
Sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with permethrin and tucked in under the mattress unless accommodation is air-conditioned.

Impregnate mosquito net and clothing with permethrin (a synthetic pyrethroid highly effective with low toxicity). It is also non-staining and odourless, although some cases of skin irritation have been reported with its use. It comes in liquid or powder form and is used for washing nets and clothing. It acts by killing insects that come in contact with the material.
Burning mosquito coils in a room may be of some benefit.

Some people are more susceptible (more attractive) to mosquito than others. Malaria risk is greatest between dusk and dawn especially in rural areas, so day trips to the country and staying in the city overnight lowers malaria risk. However, care should be taken to avoid mosquito bites at all times because many diseases are passed on via daytime-biting mosquitoes (e.g. dengue fever).


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