Malaria isn't the only mosquito-borne disease you can contract, but it's by far the most common. Curious about the others? It's a heady cocktail: Dengue, Chikungunya, Elephantiasis and Japanese Encephalitis are among them. Approximately one million fresh cases of the disease are reported in the country every year.
It is not just that mosquitoes carry unpleasant and potentially lethal diseases. Every bite is a potential small infection. When a mosquito bites you, your immune system reacts, causing itching, redness and swelling. Mosquitoes do not wash their mouths before biting and we do not scrub our finger nails before scratching. Even without disease, mosquitoes can spoil your day.
Some people do not react to mosquito bites, and others have ceased to do so because their immune systems have become accustomed to them. Many of these people, especially local people, will claim that mosquitoes do not bite them, but often it is just that they do not notice. It is just the lucky few that really do not attract mosquitoes at all --- or who are clever enough to travel with someone that the mosquitoes prefer!
What you can do about Mosquitoes before you get to India
- There is no vaccine against dengue fever, Chikungunya or Malaria, although a course of prophylactic drugs can be taken to give protection against malaria. This is a touchy subject on India Mike, with some IMers advocating for and some advising against prophylaxis. Some point out that the protection is not guaranteed anyway. Consult your doctor, or, at least read the information published by your local health department and go with what makes you comfortable.
- If you are travelling with children, you must consult a doctor. If you plan to travel with babes or infants, this is particularly important, and it may be wiser to postpone the trip for a few years.
- Purchase a travel-worthy mosquito net (IM-er ashyashwin has some suggestions for traveling mosquito nets).
- DEET remains the most widely available, and possibly the most effective repellent. There are other "chemical" choices, or you could try "natural" repellants based on substances such as citronella oil.
- Phone apps that emit noises that are supposed to repel mosquitoes are useless and have even led to threats of legal action against sellers in UK. Hand-held mosquito 'bats' extend the reach and are a very effective addition to plug-in insecticide devices. Beware of burning the old-fashioned coils in a closed room: it could be poisonous.
- There are plenty more tips from IM-er’s (and a spirited discussion on mosquito nets) in the Health and Wellbeing forum and the Beginner's Guide to Fighting Mosquitoes thread.
What you can do about Mosquitoes after you get to India
- Slather on the repellent. In India, you can purchase repellents easily: Odomos ointment or spray (with citronella) or MosBit (patches, that apparently work for 24 hours) for example,
- When indoors, turn on the plug-in bug repellants (gel or tablet) or a slow-burning mosquito coil that works like an incense stick (“kachchhua” is the most popular brand). Note that plug-ins and apps require electricity, though, and if you’re somewhere that experiences what’s euphemistically called ‘load shedding’ which practically means periodic electricity outages, you may do well to buy the coil, just be sure to use the coil in a well ventilated room. You can also use citronella oil and a tea light, but that would mean an open flame and all hotels aren’t too hot on that.
- In India, you can look for a racket zapper. This is, by far, the most satisfying way of eliminating mosquitoes. It does need to be charged for a few hours before you can use it but it tops the list for mosquito elimination. Some hotels actually have staff go around with them twice a day. You can get yours at any decent household goods store and a traffic signal near you.
- Try to stay covered – a difficult proposition when it’s so very hot. But try. Mosquitoes seem to like strong, sweet smells – so wear a headscarf after you’ve shampooed and conditioned.
Remember, it’s up to you to get your shots and pills, but its good to know that dengue mosquitoes are day biters, the malaria ones are the ones that moonlight, and they are NOT your friends.
Latest comments for Fight the Bite - How and Why to Prevent Mosquito Bites in India
- Join Date:
- Oct 2004
- Chennai, India
I added a bit more to the intro section about mossies and their bites in general.
BTW: is malaria the most common of these diseases? Or just the most well known? Or the most reliably reported?
- Join Date:
- Oct 2004
- Chennai, India
"What you can do about Mosquitoes before you get to India/What you can do about Mosquitoes after you get to India" --- I have been thinking that this needs changing, because the answer to the first question is, nothing except a little shopping. Because the mossies are in India!