A question often posed at quiz nights is “What is the World’s most dangerous animal to humans?” Forget about lions, tigers, hippos, polar bears or even sharks; the most dangerous by far is the minuscule mosquito!
The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry Dengue Fever which is very prevalent in south-east Asian countries including Thailand.
The Ministry of Public Health has instructed its local offices nationwide to urge people to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, to prevent a dengue fever outbreak as Thailand begins easing into the rainy season. This means checking out your outdoors and removing any pooled water and damp moist places as potential mosquito breeding hot spots.
Those infected by the virus will develop a fever with a temperature of up to 40 degrees Celsius within 5-8 days after a mosquito bite. Symptoms may include red rashes, vomiting, having a headache and a runny nose.
They should be taken to the hospital immediately if the fever does not come down within two days of taking medicine.
Dengue Fever Vaccinations
Dengue vaccine has been registered and is now available in some hospitals in Thailand. Some travelers ask whether they should get dengue vaccine or not and what is recommended.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends dengue vaccine in people age 9-45 years old who live in the dengue endemic area.
Scientists believe when people get primary (1st time) infection with dengue virus, the disease is usually mild and self-limited. However, if that patient gets dengue infection again (secondary infection), there is an increase risk to develop more severe disease.
However, it doesn’t mean that all patients with secondary dengue infection will be severe. In fact, the majority of the cases is still mild, but chances to develop severe disease is higher than primary infection.
For someone visiting Thailand for the first time who has never been exposed to dengue virus it is not recommended to give the vaccine as the benefit is less and there may be a safety concern as well.
TOP TEN MOSQUITO DEFENCE TIPS
1. Most mosquitoes ‘hang around’ close to the ground so your feet and legs dangling under the table are an easy target and out of sight. You won’t hear them buzzing under there over the clinking of glasses and the tuk tuks whizzing by. If you’re heading out to dinner take some repellant for your legs, the lower on the legs, the more likely you are to be bitten there. Most restaurants and bars will have some spray – just ask them.
2. We love the sunsets and for the morning people, sunrises. So do Aedes aegypti, so these times of the day you need extra precautions against mosquitoes. They will be around.
3. If you smell nice – a hint of perfume or after-shave here or there, mosquitoes will be attracted. That scented soap is a sweet smell for the relentless mosquito tracking system. When they’re not biting you they’re usually attracted to flowers. Bland is better if you want to avoid mosquitoes. Buy unscented deodorant too.
4. Beige is back as mosquitoes seem attracted to bright colored clothing. Bland colored clothes are less attractive to mosquitoes.
5. Whatever you apply on your skin to deter mosquitoes, you’ll need to re-apply every few hours. Just a quick squirt isn’t going to work all night. If you’re outside you WILL be perspiring and this both washes away the repellant and provides a new attractive scent for the mosquitoes.
6. If you’ve been out all day, exercising or swimming or lounging on the beach; you’ll be sweaty, salty and ripe for the mosquitoes. Have a shower, without using scented soap or lotions, before you head out for your sunset drinks.
7 Mosquito coils work very well as a general deterrent but you’ll need to be vigilant about having the coil’s fumes blowing in your direction. Set them on the ground, where most of the mosquitoes tend to gather, around your legs and feet.
8. Mosquitoes are attracted to light so if the lights are off outside and on inside, the mosquitoes will be headed towards the light. Not only mosquitoes, just about any bug is going to be attracted to light. If you want to get the bugs outside again, turn on a light outside and the lights off inside and open the doors. They’ll head out towards the light. An electronic bug zapper is a great alternative with lethal light to attract mosquitoes.
9. If there’s a hole in your room’s defences, mosquitoes will find a way in. Windows and doors, obviously, but also vents – anywhere there’s access to the outside. Best to spray your room before you sleep and keep the doors and windows closed, unless you’ve got fly-screens without any rips or tears. Many of us don’t like sleeping with the air-conditioning but better a dry throat in the morning rather than a case of dengue.
10. A mosquito net above your bed is a cage that keeps you in and the mosquitoes out. Make sure there’s no way in for them – they’ll find a way if there is.
A good fan will also work very well but it’s got to be blowing hard enough so the mosquitoes can’t make a three-point landing on your body. A gentle zephyr on #1 setting won’t do. If you get the position of the fan right and have the setting high enough you’ll stay cool and the mosquitoes will not be able to land on you and bite.
Your means of defence may also include an electronic zapper, coil and personal repellent
South-east Asia has been declared the region with the greatest risk of contracting dengue by the World Health Organisation. Instances of Dengue are on the rise so risk factors need to be considered.
The aedes aegypti is also known as the tiger mosquito with the distinctive black and white stripes. Conservatively, at least 50 million people contract dengue each year. Dengue is thought to cause around 20,000 deaths per year.