Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism. Diseases transmitted include: malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis and Zika fever, to name but a few! Over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. The volume of misery caused by the skin irritation is simply vast !
To help prevent mosquito vectored issues in our world-wide travelling Yachting community, I thought the following would be helpful:
ARE SOME OF US REALLY MORE ATTRACTIVE TO MOSQUITOS?
In a nutshell, the answer is YES! Research has demonstrated that up to 20% of the population are consistently bitten more often than the other 80%. Scientists have a number of theories as to why. These include:
BLOOD TYPE: It is known that different blood types secrete sugars through the skin that mosquitoes sense. Studies as early as 1972 suggest that mosquitoes seem to prefer those with Type O blood. Indeed, mosquitoes land on skin with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fall somewhere in between this range.
CARBON DIOXIDE: Mosquitoes are attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide and can detect it from up to 50 metres away. Consequently, those that exhale more i.e. often larger people with increased body mass, are more likely to be bitten.
METABOLISM: Mosquitoes seek substances including compounds secreted in skin and sweat, such as lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, steroids, and cholesterol. Strenuous exercise can result in a build-up of lactic acid which may make individuals more susceptible. Genetic factors are likely be involved in the composition of these substances.
BACTERIA: Large numbers of bacterial species naturally inhabit human skin. Researchers have shown that certain bacterial subtypes present in large numbers e.g. Staphylococcus epidermidis, make individuals more attractive to mosquitoes.
PREGNANCY: Pregnant women are more susceptible than non-pregnant women. Possibly because they exhale relatively more carbon dioxide and have a higher resting body temperature.
ADVICE FOR PREVENTING MOSQUITO BITES
- COVER EXPOSED SKIN: Wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers and hats. Some mosquitos prefer to bite overnight and others during the day. Hence, its best to cover up constantly!
- CLOTHING COLOUR: Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours, as they use vision along with scent to locate their targets. So, stick to light colours to reduce your attractiveness !
- INSECT REPELLENT: Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
- DEET (Diethyltouamide) is probably the most effective. Research has shown that a repellent containing approximately 20 per cent will protect the wearer for about 5 hours. It has a good safety record and weaker formulations of 10 per cent or less are safe to use on infants from the age of 2 months (“Off!”, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
- Picaridin (Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan)
- IR3535 (Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
Always follow product directions and reapply as directed.
Avoid applying repellent to hands, eyes, and mouth.
If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
A few plant based chemicals offer some protection against mosquito bites. They are not as effective as DEET and are not recommended as the only protection. They include citronella, lemon eucalyptus and neem.
- USE PERMETHRIN-TREATED CLOTHING (such as boots, trousers and socks): These can be bought pre-treated or self-treated. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last. If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms/ use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors (open window).
- MEDICATION: Not all mosquito vectored illnesses have a vaccine or medication. However, if they do, it is advised to have the vaccine and/ or take medication if/when, prescribed.
ADVICE FOLLOWING MOSQUITO BITES
Insect bites commonly cause lumps (papules), itching (pruritus), and wheals (urticarial) skin reactions. Occasionally, small blisters (bullae) may develop. The bites should usually settle within a few hours to a few days.
- AVOID SCRATCHING MOSQUITO BITES: Scratching increases the risk of developing infection at the site of the bite. One of the many functions of skin is to act as a barrier to the outside world.
- COLD COMPRESS: Cooling the skin with a cold flannel or ice pack should help.
- Calamine lotion to affected areas. Commonly results in no side effects.
- Antihistamines: oral antihistamines will relieve the itch and swelling e.g. cetirizine 10mg once or twice a day.
- Mild steroid cream: hydrocortisone 0.5-2.5% applied twice daily for a few days can reduce inflammation and itching.
- IF YOU FEEL GENERALLY UNWELL:
- Take paracetamol (acetaminophen) to reduce fever.
- Ibuprofen and other aspirin related medications reduce inflammation and should be taken with food. NOTE: These medications can make asthma sufferers worse!
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR:
- If you have felt generally unwell for over 24 hours, despite home treatment.
- If you notice pus or discharge in or around the bite, increased pain, redness or swelling or swollen glands then suspect infection. This may require treatment with oral antibiotics.
We wish you well avoiding the nuisance that is a mosquito !
NEWS FROM CLUB DE MAR MEDICAL
MEDICAL ROOMS & TRAINING ROOM: In our lovely large offices, we have rooms to rent, please get in touch and come and have a look!
Our 2017 TEACHING PROGRAMME:
20 February UMC Update Proficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
20 February MC Proficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
27 February EFA Elementary First Aid
27 February MFA Medical First Aid
06 March UMC Update Proficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
06 March MC Proficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
27 March EFA Elementary First Aid
27 March MFA Medical First Aid
03 April MC UMC UpdateProficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
03 April MC MC Proficiency in Medical Care on Board Ship
VACCINATIONS: We are Passionate about Prevention!!
As always, we urge everyone to keep up-to-date with their vaccinations. For those of you who are spending the winter in Palma, this could be the perfect opportunity to ensure you have the time to complete the immunization schedules. Do you work with sewerage or perhaps clean up bodily fluids? If so, are you Hepatitis B immune? The schedule of 3 vaccinations takes a minimum of 1 month to complete. Do please plan ahead! Let us know so that we can help.