A female (Asian) Tiger mosquito (Aedes Albopictus) having dinner.
This is a female of the Aedes species that is responsible for Dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika. Malaria is delivered by the female Anopheles mosquito (photo below). Another pest, Aedes Aegypti, looks very similar and has the same distinctive white markings. However, just because the mozzie has white bands doesn’t mean it’s infected with anything! It’s probably just irritating but harmless. Relax. Well, kill it then relax.
Mosquito bites, avoidance and disease symptoms – Zika, Malaria, Dengue
West Nile virus
West Nile virus is a problem in the USA which has killed two or three hundred people in the last two years.
The viral transmitting mosquitoes have now appeared in southern Europe including Portugal, Spain and France. So how can you avoid these sometimes deadly infections?
The best way to avoid Malaria, Dengue Fever and West Nile virus (not to mention rarer but equally unpleasant health threats such as Encephalitis, Triple E, Yellow Fever, Rift Valley fever and more) is to keep the little stingers off you.
Triple E virus: Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Fresh into the mosquito-borne disease spotlight is the USA’s Triple E virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which is found in north eastern US locations such as Rhode Island. It is rarely transmitted to humans (averaging 5 cases per year; birds are the main recipient of Triple E), but when it is, it’s deadly, killing a third of those infected. There is no cure or vaccine, so keeping mozzies off is the only defence.
Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya are spread by the Aedes mosquito species which is most active during the day but also flies at dawn and dusk.
People are advised to:
* Cover up with long-sleeved shirts and trousers
* Use insect repellents such as those containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535, the stronger the better though, for example, DEET over 50% is not good for delicate skin. Put it on clothes instead (T-shirt near neck and arms, shorts near bare legs etc.) If you prefer a natural product try one of these repellents.
* Apply sunscreen before using applying insect repellent
* Keep doors and windows closed and to use air conditioning
p.s. If you get bitten and the spot is itchy, try ‘ironing’ it with a hot cup of tea or coffee – it will magically disappear! Alternatively try squeezing lemon juice or apple cider vinegar or fresh cut onion/garlic onto it.
Outdoors, wear light colours – mosquitoes know their camouflage – long trousers and long sleeves.
Take especial care of bare ankles underneath restaurant tables, it’s the mosquito’s favourite dining area, a lovely cluster of veins close to the ground in discreet darkness. Mmm, yummy.
And they’ll get you through thin clothes too, so apply repellent to thin fabrics in key places e. g. socks, T-shirt shoulders.
Avoid wearing perfumes and shower off your body odour as soon as you can, as mosquitoes use smell to track their victims.
Indoors, hunt to splat. Look under beds, shake curtains, check dark places. In extremis spray the room with (esp. pyrethrum) insecticide, if it has window nets or air conditioning.
Electric anti-mosquito mats are preferable for all-night protection rather than smouldering coils, as coils tend to run out before dawn, and are smelly, unhealthy devices anyway. But they are very effective.
When travelling in more primitive surroundings sleep under a net, treated with permethrin if possible. If not, mosquito coils are default best system.