Aside from being annoying, mosquito’s found in North America are for the most part harmless. Now if you like to travel to tropical destinations you may want to pay extra attention to this article as Malaria, Cerebral Malaria and the Zika Virus (which currently has almost 500 cases in New York City alone) are not really a souvenir you want to bring back home to the states.
Lets start with some natural ways to avoid mosquito bites
Are you someone that likes to drink soda or eat sugary foods? If so stop now before you head to the tropics as for some reason mosquito’s are drawn to people with lots of sugar in their blood. Better yet mosquito’s apparently don’t like to suck on spicy blood, so start getting used to adding lots and lots of hot sauce to your meals as a natural and delicious way to say goodbye to those pesky buggers, or “mozis” as they’re known in the south pacific.
For those of you not comfortable changing up your diet while on vacation I present to you the PARA´KITO Mosquito Repellent “Jungle Band”. What makes PARA´KITO products unique is they offer up a natural mosquito repellent that doesn’t actually go on your skin. The beauty of the Jungle Band is the ease of use. Simply put a DEET Free mosquito repellent pouch (full of natural oils) inside the PARA´KITO Jungle Band, snap the Velcro closed and your off. The one I tested actually came in a camouflaged color way which was sweet. Looks aside this product does work wonders and last for upto 15 days on a single pouch which is about half the size of your thumb. For anyone spending long periods of time outdoors in mosquito country this is surely a product you’ll want to invest in. $19.50
Another one of my favorite ways to stay bite free from mosquito’s comes from the Deter brand. Now this has to be a play on words as the company does not use DEET in their natural mosquito repellent, instead Deter is packed full of ingredients like Coconut Oil, Soybean Oil, Spearment Oil and more natural goodies from the earth. One of the great things about this spray is a little goes a LONG way and the 2 oz bottle is TSA compliant so you can rest assured when you get down south that a spray or two will keep the mozis away for upto 6 hours. Along with keeping mozis at bay Deeter works great for repelling horse flies, ticks, gnats and even fleas. One 2 oz bottle can easily last for months if not years in the tropics. $5.58
Mosquito Drugs may = trouble for you…
One thing I would avoid at all cost, (odds are the CDC will disagree) is the use of anti Malaria drugs. Sure this sounds good on paper, get a prescription before you leave and then pop some pills to keep mosquito’s from giving you a life threatening disease. However what if said pills had the chance of messing with your brain? I personally know of a friend that went to Bali on a surf trip, was told to take Mefloquine (which is not recommenced for people with certain psychiatric conditions), whoops. Turns out my friend lost his mind so to speak and was found walking around the streets of Denpensar, Bali naked in the middle of the night with no clue as to what was happening and or why..
Another report recently came out in the Military Times titled Malaria drug causes brain damage that mimics PTSD:case study and specifically mentions “At the peak of mefloquine’s use in 2003, nearly 50,000 prescriptions were written by military doctors. That figure dropped to 216 prescriptions in 2015, according to data provided by the Defense Department. According to DoD policy, mefloquine is prescribed only to personnel who can’t tolerate other preventives.”
I personally took another drug while in Indonesia called Doxycycline, however the 3 months dose the doctor prescribed me was never finished mainly due to one reason “Persons planning on considerable sun exposure may want to avoid the increased risk of sun sensitivity” I was going to Bali to surf, and surf some more. So taking an anti-malaria drug that had the potential to increase my risk of skin cancer and sun exposure, was not something I was willing to risk, especially as a light skinned ginger.
At the end of the day, I did not end up with Malaria thankfully. However that being said you always want to be mindful when spending time outdoors around sunset – dusk hours as that’s when mosquito’s really seem to be active. Another tip is to bring along a pair of light weight pants and long sleeved shirt. If you must sit out and watch the sunset while being swarmed by mozi’s why not do so comfortably. Mosquito nets also work wonders, however I prefer a room with AC as it’s really tough for a mosquito to fly around in a room with the air conditioner blowing out cool air.
All this being said, you really need to make a decision as to just how much exposure you want to put yourself into when visiting countries with crazy mosquito related diseases. Is it worth the risk of contracting cerebral malaria like my friend Travis Potter did while surfing in Papua New Guinea?
With the tips above and some common sense you can limit your exposure to mosquito related diseases on your next surf trip!