Does Mosquito Season Ever End

As summer comes to a close you may be wondering if mosquito season will ever end.  There is good news and bad news, it really depends on where you live.  Mosquito season is regulated by temperatures so if you live in the southern US you can be dealing with them most of the year, whereas the further north you go the shorter the season.  When it gets cold mosquitoes will go live underground but as soon as it warms up they are back bothering you again.

In the Southern US temperatures rarely hit the freezing mark and when they do it is usually only for a couple of days out of the year.  If you live in the south it can seem like you’re dealing with insects all year long.  Throughout the year mosquitoes will live in your gardens, plants, drains or even your house, they go anywhere they can find some heat.

Why Are Mosquitos Dangerous

Most of the time a mosquito bite is nothing more than a nuisance, you scratch for a day or two and it’s over with.  But that’s not always the case, mosquitos around the world carry infectious diseases with them and are responsible for the deaths of more than a million people globally, including some right here at home.

Even in the US where there is quality healthcare and hygiene there are certain areas where people with compromised immune systems or pregnant women are in danger during mosquito season.  The Zika virus is the latest threat but it isn’t the only one, West Nile virus can also be a problem for people.  Mosquitos can make both people and your pets sick, that’s why they are more than just irritating.

The End of Mosquito Season

The US has a variety of regions all with their own climate but mosquitoes like warm wet climates so if you live in the Gulf area you’re going to be dealing with them all year long.  Once winter temperatures start going lower than 50F then mosquitos will start dying.  That means that almost all of the US will get a break for at least a little while.  There are some mosquitos that hibernate in the cold and will seek shelter in your yard that is why it is so important to keep your yard from being a mosquito sanctuary.  Clean up any standing water and incorporate some mosquito repelling plants to help rid yourself of these obnoxious pests.

Plants that Repel Mosquitoes

Plants that Repel Mosquitoes

Mosquitos have been living on earth and pestering humans since the dawn of time.  Like any other living creature they have likes and dislikes and that is a good thing.  That means there are animals out there that eat mosquitoes and plants that will help keep them away from where you and yours are trying to have some fun.  So what plants will help keep the mosquitoes out of your yard?  Let’s have a look.

There are several plants that you can put in your yard to help with your mosquito problem but first you need to be cautious, some of them can also be harmful to pets if they are eaten.  Most of these plants are not only beautiful but they smell delicious.  Head on over to your local plant store, if you’re a gardener you now have an excuse to buy new plants.  You can use these plants both indoors and outside and that will help keep mosquitoes away from the yard and the inside of your house.

Here are the best plants to keep mosquitos away:

  • Rosemary: Not only will it keep mosquitoes away but it is a great herb for cooking so it’s win-win
  • Lemon Balm: Mosquitos hate this stuff but people have been using it for centuries in medicine and cooking
  • Chives: Another great plant that not only keeps mosquitoes away but can be used for cooking
  • Marigolds: A beautiful addition to any garden they get rid of mosquitoes and other insects that will feast on your tomato plants
  • Camphor: You can find camphor all over the US, you or your neighbors probably have some in your yard but this plant originated in China and has been used for centuries to ward off mosquitoes
  • Catnip: Mosquitoes will hate this plant but your cat will love you if you put it in the garden
  • Mosquito Plant: There is a plant so good at warding off mosquitoes that is it called the mosquito plant, okay that is not true.  It is actually a bunch of different plants including the popular citronella plant that keeps mosquitoes away

There are a couple of other common plants like mint and lavender that are good at keeping insects away from your yard.  However be careful with mint if left unchecked it will take over the entire yard.  You can plant any of these plants either in the back garden itself or you can use some window boxes.  You can make your garden look beautiful and keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Who Bites the Mosquito?

Who Bites the Mosquito

Wouldn’t summer be absolutely perfect if we didn’t have mosquitoes?  Nothing ruins a peaceful summer evening quite like a swarm of mosquitoes.  You probably don’t even notice them until it is too late, you’re bitten and now you’re going to be itchy for days.  Since everything in nature has a natural predator that begs the question “who bites the mosquitoes?”  Let’s look at the natural predators of mosquitos and just imagine how bad it would be if these animals didn’t exist.


While most of us find bats pretty creepy the fact is they are pretty useful in keeping the mosquito population under control.  A single bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes in one night!  If you don’t mind bats then you can construct a bat house on your property and hope they enjoy their dinner.


There are a variety of different birds that will feast on mosquitoes and they can help cut down on the number of mosquitoes living in your backyard.  In order to attract these birds you will have to build them a bird house, but be careful with adding a bird bath standing water is what can bring mosquitoes there in the first place.


Dragonflies are not only cool looking but they eat mosquitoes too.  Dragonflies are deadly to mosquitos in two ways.  Both lay their eggs in the water but when dragonflies become nymphs in the water they are feasting on the mosquito larvae that is getting ready to be a full grown mosquito.  Once both are adults then dragonflies eat adult mosquitoes.  We need more dragonflies to help rid us of mosquitoes.


Much like dragonfly nymphs fish find mosquito larvae to be a lovely delicacy.  All kinds of fish will feed off mosquito larvae such as Bass, Catfish, Guppies, Goldfish and the Mosquito Fish.  If you have a backyard pond then you might consider adding some of these to help cut down on the mosquito problem.  They eat the mosquitoes long before they become adults and start biting you.

Even the dreaded mosquito has some natural enemies that helps to keep the population balanced.  Yet there still seems to be millions of them living in your backyard.  You want to be careful and make sure there is no standing water in your backyard.  Not only will mosquitos be attracted to a water source but that is where they will lay their eggs and make millions of more mosquitoes.

Protecting Your Pets from Mosquitoes

Protecting Your Pets from Mosquitoes

During the summer months and mosquito season we protect our kids and ourselves but don’t give much thought to protecting our pets from mosquitoes.  We often just worry about fleas and ticks but overlook how mosquitoes can also make our pets sick.  We can’t spray our pets down with the same type of insect repellant that we use, unfortunately they could end up digesting and making them sick.  The best way to avoid getting sick from mosquito bites is to avoid getting bit but that is often easier said than done.  That being said the next time you bring your furry friend to the vet make sure you ask them about preventing mosquito bites in addition to fleas and ticks.  In the meantime here are some of the diseases that your pet can contract from mosquitoes.


Heartworm is extremely dangerous to dogs and it can be life threatening, it is also one of the most common parasites that affects both dogs and cats.  Mosquitoes who carry the roundworm larvae can pass this along to your pet when they bite.  Your pet may be bitten in the summer but you won’t even notice any symptoms for months later.  These parasites live in the heart of your dog or cat and you only see the symptoms when there is enough of them to stop blood flow to your pets heart and other organs.  Talk to your vet they can help protect your pet from heartworm.

West Nile Virus

West Nile can infect birds, horses, dogs and even you!  The mosquito picks up West Nile from bird and then the pass it around, horses seem to be most affected but that doesn’t mean that other animals won’t get sick.   A healthy dog is probably safe but an older or sick dog is not.  If you have an outdoor cat that hunts it can also get sick if it catches a bird that carries West Nile.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

This is far more common in horses but dogs can get it too.  This is a potentially fatal virus that is often misdiagnosed.  If your dog has diarrhea, uncontrolled eye movements and a fever then get them to your vet as soon as possible.

Be very careful with your pets during mosquito season they are just as susceptible to mosquito bites as people and the results can be fatal.  Talk to your vet to make sure your pets stay safe.

Why Do Some People Get Bit More Than Others?

Why Do Some People Get Bit More Than Others

Have you ever been out with friends or family on a warm summer night and you’re the one getting eaten alive by mosquitos while everyone else seems to be having a great time.  It’s not all in your head mosquitos do have their favorites.  So why do some people get bit more than others?  Let’s look at why mosquitoes seem to love you best.

Blood Type

If you are lucky enough to have type O blood then not only are a universal blood donor but mosquitos think you taste better.  Research suggest that type O is the most popular among mosquitos with those who have type A coming next.  This might be the reason that mosquitos pick you rather than everyone else.  Unfortunately there isn’t much that you can do about that.

The Bacteria on Your Skin

Our skin is covered in bacteria and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but certain bacteria are attractive to mosquitos.  They are picky though and prefer people with minimal bacteria on their skin.

Your Metabolism

No, mosquitos don’t care how heavy or thin you are but your metabolism determines how much CO2 that you release.  Mosquitos are attracted to CO2 and the more the better.  We all release CO2 at different rates but pregnant women release far more than anyone else, so if you’re pregnant then you’re a gourmet dinner to mosquitos.

How to Repel Mosquitos

Don’t Drink Beer

There have been studies that have shown that mosquitos are big fans of beer drinkers.  You can either switch to wine or lather on the bug spray.  If you are having a party in your yard a good fan will help keep them away as well.

Wash Off the Sweat

If you have been playing any sports outside or going running then you want to get rid of the sweat as soon as possible.  Mosquitos can detect the smell of sweat and that will bring them in droves so washing off the sweat will help keep them at bay.

Get Some Bug Spray

Bug spray is a great way to keep the mosquitos off you while you are outside but it isn’t foolproof.  If you are outside playing soccer or baseball you may sweat off the bug spray, also bug spray doesn’t work for everyone and you can still get bit despite the insect repellent.  You want to try different kinds until you find one that works for you.  If you want to keep enjoying your backyard but without the bug bites you may also want to add some citronella torches around your space to help keep them away.

Fly Screens for Doors and Windows

Fly screens for doors and windows keep out unwanted flying insects such as mosquitoes, midges and moths, even at night when your lights are on. They let the fresh air in and do not block out natural sunlight or reduce visibility.

Fit insect screens in your home, office, caravan, tent, boat, greenhouse, car, gazebo, children’s playhouse or anything else that needs protection from nuisance insects. Screens are often used for commercial purposes in restaurants and kitchen areas to comply with health and safety regulations.

Insect Screen Mesh

Fly screens are made with tightly woven mesh material that flying insects are unable to squeeze through. You can buy grey, black, white or charcoal-coloured mesh by the roll and by the metre. Use it to make your own insect screens or to repair damage. Different types of insect mesh are available for different purposes.
Popular types of insect screen mesh include:

  • Standard fibreglass mesh – Standard fibreglass mesh is the most widely used mesh and is appropriate for most insect screening needs. It is easy to cut, pliable and waterproof. Standard fibreglass mesh has a mesh count of 18 x 16 threads per square inch.
  • Midge mesh – Midge mesh is also made from easy-to-work-with fibreglass material. It is a more specialised type of mesh with a tighter weave, which keeps out the tiniest of insects such as midges and thunder flies. Midge mesh may be more appropriate than standard mesh in places such as Scotland, which is renowned for its high midge populations. Midge mesh has a higher mesh count of around 20 x 20 threads per square inch.
  • Stainless steel mesh – Stainless steel mesh is more robust and durable than standard insect mesh and is a good choice for commercial and industrial environments, or where pets are present. Stainless steel mesh has a mesh count of 18 x 14 threads per square inch.

Types of Fly Screens

Fly screens are made for all types of doors and windows, fitting directly to window and door frames or inside wall reveals. Take your measurements and a professional supplier will make what you need according to your specifications. Alternatively, DIY kits provide everything you need to assemble and install your own insect screens.

Different types of fly screens include:

  • Retractable – a retractable, or roller fly screen works just like a roller blind. Insect mesh rolls up inside a spring-loaded cassette holder and pulls across horizontally or vertically to protect the door or window opening. It retracts into its storage cassette when not in use and has the advantage of completely disappearing for extended periods of non-use.
  • Hinged – a hinged fly screen consists of insect mesh fitted inside an aluminium frame. The frame attaches to the window or door frame with hinges and fastens closed with turn buttons. Just like normal doors, hinged door fly screens are easy to open and walk through and are made for standard front and back doors as well as double opening hinged entry doors (French doors). For windows, hinges can be at the top or down the side of the window frame.
  • Sliding – a sliding fly screen sits inside an aluminium frame that slides across upper and lower tracks fitted to the window or door frame. Sliding fly screens are ideal for patio doors and double sliding fly screens are available for double doors. For double or larger windows, multiple sliding insect screens can be fitted to ensure the entire window area is completely protected.
  • Curtain – a fly screen curtain is made from hanging mesh panels suspended from a bar attached to the top of the doorway. Weights are sewn into the bottom of the mesh panels to hold the curtain in place. Mesh curtains allow people and pets to easily walk through and are ideal for doorways where a conventional screen door is unsuitable. They are usually a cheaper option than fitted door fly screens.
  • Magnetic – a magnetic fly screen has magnets attached to each of its four corners, allowing it to be secured easily to a window frame. This type of screen is easy to lift off when not in use during the winter months.
  • Velcro – a Velcro fly screen is made from flexible insect mesh secured with Velcro self-adhesive hook tape that easily peels back and reattaches. Velcro is ideal for awkward shaped windows in tents, caravans and boats and are very easy to install.
  • Plastic – a plastic fly screen consists of durable, wipe-clean plastic strips suspended from a rail at the top of the doorframe, and are popular in kitchens during the summer months. Easy for people and pets to walk through, they are inexpensive and available in a variety of colours for standard doors.
  • Metal Chain Curtain – a metal chain curtain is made from a row of durable, rustproof aluminium links suspended to a rail or bracket at top of the doorway. Suitable for internal and external doorways, metal chain curtains are used for domestic and commercial purposes. Metal chain curtains are approved by Environmental Health Officers and often used in commercial environments to comply with Environmental Health pest control regulations. They are ideal for hot kitchens, pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes, sandwich shops and other premises that sell food.
  • Beaded – similar to metal chain curtains, beaded fly screens give doors and windows protection against flying insects and also make decorative room dividers.
  • PVC – PVC fly screens are ideal for large doorways in warehouses, factories and food preparation premises. They enable food businesses to comply with health and safety regulations, and heavy-duty PVC can tolerate forklifts and other means of industrial transportation passing through.

Mosquito Bite Treatment

Mosquito bites are usually harmless and go away by themselves in a few days. However, your immune system responds to proteins present in mosquito saliva, often causing intense itching and discomfort. Luckily you don’t have to put up with the itch. There are a variety of effective treatments that quickly stop mosquito bites itching.

How to Treat a Mosquito Bite

Whatever you do and as tempting as it may be, don’t scratch! Scratching an insect bite will only bring temporary relief and the itching will come back soon after with a vengeance. Scratching may also cause inflammation and break the skin, exposing it to bacteria and causing an infection such as cellulitis.

If you have an itchy mosquito bite, wash it well with soap and water to prevent infection and pat dry. Reduce any swelling by making a cold compress – dip a clean cloth in ice cold water and place it over the affected area. Or, place an ice pack or ice wrapped in a cloth on the bite every 10 minutes until the itching and swelling subsides.

Apply an over-the-counter antiseptic cream, cooling anaesthetic spray or calamine lotion to reduce itching. A cream with the active ingredient crotamiton, such as Eurax cream, will help relieve severe itching. After Bite Insect Bite Remedy contains ammonia and provides fast relief from itching caused by insect bites.

Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites

You can make your own mosquito bite home remedies with ingredients you have in your kitchen cupboards:

  • Meat tenderiser paste: Mix 1 teaspoon of dry meat tenderiser with 1 teaspoon of water to make a paste and dab it on the bite. Leave the paste on the bite for thirty minutes before rinsing clean. Meat tenderiser contains enzymes which help draw toxins out of the skin.
  • Baking soda: Mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water and apply it to the mosquito bite to soothe the itching.

Mosquito Bite Zappers

A mosquito bite zapper, such as Care Plus Click-Away After Mosquito Bite, is a small clickable device that provides fast mosquito bite itch relief. With each click, the device emits a safe, small electric shock, which breaks down histamine in the body that causes the itching and swelling. Use the clicker to click five times on the bite and the itching disappears.

Zap-It Mosquito Bite Relief Device works by the rapid expansion and contraction of crystals. Zap It produces a harmless, pain free, low electrical current that prevents the build-up of histamine beneath the skin and stops the mosquito bite from itching and swelling. The zapper can be used as many times as necessary until itching subsides.

Essential Oils

Lavender oil and tea tree oil can be applied neat to mosquito bites to relieve itching. (Most other essential oils must be diluted in carrier oil before they can be safely applied to the skin.) Diluted eucalyptus oil is also helpful for treating bites.

If your mosquito bite is uncomfortable, make a cold compress with lavender and German chamomile essential oils to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Fill a bowl with very cold water (add ice cubes if you like). Sprinkle about 3 drops of lavender oil and 3 drops of German chamomile essential oil onto the water – the oil will spread out in a fine film on the water’s surface. Dip a clean flannel lightly into the water and let it soak up some oil. Wring the flannel out to get rid of excess water and place it over the mosquito bite. Repeat as necessary.

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies may help reduce symptoms of insect bites, although their effectiveness is unclear. For example:

  • Apis mellifica: If taken soon after you’ve been bitten, Apis mellifica may quickly help reduce swelling and burning.
  • Ledum: Often used in homeopathy as a remedy for mosquito bites, Ledum may reduce swelling if the affected area feels cold.
  • Staphysagria: Staphysagria may relieve symptoms of large mosquito bites with severe itching.

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements may help support your immune system, control inflammation and reduce the severity of allergic reactions to mosquito bites.

  • Grape seed extract: Grape seed extract is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help reduce inflammation.
  • Quercetin: Quercetin is a bioflavanoid and an antioxidant. It may help minimise allergic reactions to insect bites.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory and helps support your immune system. It may help reduce the toxicity of insect bites.

Inflamed Mosquito Bites

If you are particularly sensitive to mosquito bites, you may endure more intense itching and inflammation than most people experience. An over-the-counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, loratadine or cetirizine can help control your body’s response and reduce itchy swelling. A sedative antihistamine may help you sleep if the itching is so severe it keeps you awake.

If insect bites are inflamed, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. You may also try a low dose over-the counter corticosteroid cream, such as hydrocortisone cream, to reduce inflammation.

Most people can safely and easily treat mosquito bites at home. It is unnecessary to see a doctor if you have been bitten, unless the bite is painful, blistering, weeping or continues to redden and swell.

Natural Mosquito Repellants

Many mosquito repellents contain synthetic chemicals such as DEET. If you prefer to use natural skin care products like Jim from , you can buy insect repellents with active ingredients derived from natural sources. Citronella oil, oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-Menthane-3,8-diol) and IR3535 are natural mosquito repellents with proven effectiveness.

Citronella Oil

Citronella oil has been used as an insect repellent for over 50 years and is the active ingredient in insect repellent candles, incense sticks, smoke coils and some topical skin repellent sprays, lotions and wipes. Oil of citronella repels mosquitoes, ticks, black flies and fleas, but it does not harm insects – it works by disguising the chemicals given off by humans that mosquitoes find attractive.

Oil of citronella is classed as a biopesticide because it is derived from natural plant-based substances. It is not expected to cause harm to humans, animals or the environment. (Biopesticides are less toxic to the environment than conventional pesticides and degrade quickly.) Citronella oil is obtained from the steam distillation of freshly cut or dried grasses Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus. Commercially-prepared “Ceylon” citronella oil comes from Cymbopogon nardus, and “Java” citronella is from Cymbopogon winterianus.

Research suggests citronella insect repellents vary in their effectiveness and may not be as reliable as other repellents. Fradin and Day, 2002, found the protection times of citronella-based insect repellents were not as long as insect repellents containing DEET, IR3535 and soybean oil. No citronella insect repellents tested could provide protection for more than 20 minutes.

In a laboratory evaluation of synthetic and natural mosquito repellents against three species of mosquito, Barnard and Xue, 2004, found mosquito repellent spray containing 10 percent citronella performed better overall than four other natural mosquito repellent formulations. Its protective effects were not, however, as long lasting as picaridin, soybean, IR3535, oil of eucalyptus, or DEET-based insect repellents. Average protection times for the citronella insect repellent varied greatly between mosquito species.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), oil of citronella has been used widely since 1948 without giving cause for concern. When used according to instructions, citronella is unlikely to be harmful to humans, domestic pets, wild animals or the environment. Skin irritation may be a concern for some people, but serious adverse effects are extremely unlikely. Citronella insect repellents may need more frequent application than other insect repellents.

Citronella Candles

Citronella candles are scented with citronella oil and come in all shapes and sizes. Choose from citronella votive candles, glass, bucket, torch, pillar and tea light candles, as well as smoke coils and incense sticks.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, citronella candles are only effective when there is no wind blowing and are less effective than topical insect repellents applied to your body or clothing. A study carried out by the University of Guelph, Canada, found people standing near 3 percent citronella candles and 5 percent citronella incense received significantly fewer mosquito bites than people standing near unscented candles or in candle-free areas.

It appears citronella candles do not offer you complete protection against insect bites, but they will help reduce the number of bites you receive if you stay close to them, within the vicinity of the smoke. If you are having a summer barbeque, fill your garden with outdoor candles, coils and incense sticks so all your guests can get some protection against the mozzies. Your garden will also have the added benefit of a warm, inviting glow, a pleasant atmosphere and a nice smell.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (p-Menthane-3,8-diol)

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is an essential oil steam-distilled from the leaves of lemon-scented eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus citriodora). In scientific tests, the active ingredient in oil of lemon eucalyptus, p-menthane 3,8-diol (also known as PMD, Citriodiol or Citrepel), has been shown to be highly effective for repelling insects. Thus, p-menthane 3,8-diol is registered for use as an insect repellent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having satisfied the necessary requirements for efficacy and safety.

In the context of insect repellents, it is important to make the distinction between p-menthane 3,8-diol and oil of lemon eucalyptus. p-menthane 3,8-diol is synthesized from leaves of the Australian lemon-scented gum tree and is an EPA-registered insect repellent. Pure oil of lemon eucalyptus essential oil has not received the same testing as p-menthane 3,8-diol and therefore is not registered for use as an insect repellent by the EPA.

Peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown p-menthane 3,8-diol provides long-lasting protection against mosquito bites. According to the CDC, PMD insect repellent offers similar protection against mosquitoes to low-level DEET insect repellents. Furthermore, insect repellents based on oil of lemon eucalyptus provide longer-lasting protection than other plant-derived insect repellents.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, Carroll and Loye (2006) discuss the performance of p-menthane 3,8-diol as an insect repellent against several species of mosquito. Based on their review of numerous research studies involving insect repellents, they conclude that not only is the CDC correct in recommending PMD as an insect repellent, but that the CDC may have underestimated the importance of PMD as an effective alternative to DEET-based repellents.

In an informative article entitled “Bug Off! Which Mosquito Repellents Work Best?”, published in Slate online magazine (2005), writer Andria Lisle describes how she and her friends offered themselves as a mosquito buffet during the Memphis summertime, in order to test the performance of a range of chemical and natural insect repellents.

The testers rated Off! Botanicals Lotion, which contains the active ingredient p-menthane 3,8-diol, as the best performing insect repellent. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Spray, also containing PMD, was the runner up. Repellents containing the active ingredients DEET and citronella also performed well, while soybean oil, IR3535, picaridin and permethrin trailed behind.

p-menthane 3,8-diol is classified as a biopesticide and is found in a range of natural insect repellents, including Mosiguard, Incognito, Off! Botanicals, Lifesystems Natural Insect Repellent and Ben’s Natural Insect Repellent. According to the CDC, oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children aged less than 3 years.


IR3535, also called Merck 3535, is also a biopesticide derived from natural ingredients and is registered for use as a mosquito repellent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mosquito repellents typically contain between 7.5 and 20.07 percent IR3535. Some Avon mosquito repellents contain IR3535, for more information click here.

When choosing a natural mosquito repellent, be sure to check the active ingredients to help determine how effective it will be. Also remember that just because a mosquito repellent is labelled as “natural”, it does not necessarily mean it is safe. Any mosquito repellent can potentially cause a skin reaction.

Signs and Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease, widespread in tropical countries. Young children, pregnant women, travellers and people living in poverty-stricken areas are most at risk of serious illness and death from malaria. Approximately 1 million people die every year from the disease. Most of these deaths occur among children living in Africa. In the UK alone, over 2000 people each year return from a malarial zone to find they have been infected.

What Parasite Causes Malaria?

Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. Five species of Plasmodium are known to infect humans, including Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi.

Plasmodium vivax is the most common cause of malaria, but the Plasmodium falciparum parasite is the most serious, infecting large numbers of red blood cells and potentially causing severe anaemia. Plasmodium falciparum infection can kill you within a few hours of the first symptoms and requires urgent medical attention. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite is common in African countries south of the Sahara desert.

Malaria Transmission

The Plasmodium parasite is transmitted to humans by the Anopheles mosquito. When a female Anopheles bites a human infected with malaria, she takes in malaria parasites along with her blood meal. Then, when she bites another human, she injects the parasites into his or her bloodstream and they travel in the blood to the liver. They remain in the liver for a while before re-entering the bloodstream and invading red blood cells. Once inside the red blood cells, the parasites multiply.

Forty-eight to 72 hours later, the invaded red blood cells rupture and the parasites invade yet more red blood cells. Signs and symptoms of malaria occur alongside the cyclical rupturing of the red blood cells.

Signs and Symptoms of Malaria

Signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin within 7 to 30 days (known as the “incubation period”) of being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale can stay dormant in the liver for many months or years, in which case symptoms may begin much later.

Malaria has flu-like symptoms including recurring bouts of fever, sweating (caused by a drop in body temperature), shaking chills and tiredness. Other signs of infection include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice and muscle pain. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Malaria can usually be treated with the correct and prompt treatment, but in severe cases there may be complications, such as:

Anaemia caused by damage to red blood cells
Low blood pressure
Kidney or liver failure
Problems with blood clotting
Premature birth or a low birth-weight baby if the disease is contracted during pregnancy
A ruptured spleen and internal bleeding
Respiratory failure caused by fluid build-up in the lungs
Non-Falciparum and Falciparum Malaria Treatment

Suspected malaria infection should be treated as a case of emergency. With the correct diagnosis and prompt treatment, a full recovery is likely. A blood test confirms parasites are in the blood and determines which species of Plasmodium is being treated.

Malaria treatment can be given orally, by injection or intravenously. The type of treatment needed depends on the severity of infection, which species of Plasmodium is the cause and if the patient took antimalarial tablets (prophylaxis).

Due to variations in drug-resistance between different strains of malaria, the treatment given also depends on where the patient contracted the infection. For example, United States treatment guidelines state that Plasmodium falciparum infection can be treated with chloroquine, if it was acquired in one of the few parts of the world where the Plasmodium falciparum parasite is not yet resistant to chloroquine.

Non-falciparum malaria is usually treated by orally administered chloroquine. Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale have dormant liver stages that can become active again many months or years later, therefore infection with these parasites requires additional primaquine treatment to prevent relapses.
Falciparum malaria treatment includes medicines such as quinine tablets or atovaquone-proguanil. If infection is acute (most likely caused by Plasmodium falciparum), quinine treatment may initially be given intravenously before being administered orally.

Antimalarial Tablets

Chloroquine and proguanil antimalarial tablets can be bought over the counter from a pharmacist without a prescription. Chloroquine and proguanil are often taken together.

Two 250mg chloroquine tablets should be taken each week (on the same day) spent in a malaria risk zone, whether staying or just passing through, and two tablets should be taken one week beforehand, (also on the same day). This regime must be continued for four weeks upon return. Children aged 1-4 should have half a chloroquine tablet, children aged 5-8 should have one tablet, and children aged 9-14 should take one and a half tablets.

Two 100mg proguanil tablets should be taken each day spent in a malarial zone, whether staying or just passing through, and two tablets should be taken each day one week beforehand. This regime should be continued for four weeks upon return. Children aged 1-4 should have half a proguanil tablet, children aged 5-8 should have one tablet, and children aged 9-14 should take one and a half tablets.

Unfortunately, Plasmodium parasites have built up resistance to chloroquine and proguanil in many countries. For example, the Plasmodium falciparum parasite has become increasingly resistant to chloroquine in many parts of Africa, such as Kenya, Gambia and Nigeria. There are other anti malaria tablets available on prescription that may be more appropriate depending on the country you are visiting.

Ask a pharmacist, travel clinic or doctor about the right malaria prevention measures to take. Obtain your antimalarials from a reliable source before travelling, as there is a danger of being sold fake tablets elsewhere. The best protection against infection is to avoid bites from infected mosquitoes. Sleep under an insecticide-treated net, use an effective insect repellent and cover your skin with clothing. Fly screens and air conditioning are other useful weapons against biting insects.

If you experience a high fever while staying in an area with a high risk of malaria, or up to one year after returning home, seek medical help immediately. Severely infected individuals, children and pregnant women with the disease must be monitored closely.

How do Mosquito Repellents Work?

Before you buy the most suitable and best mosquito repellent for you, it is important that you know how these things work. First of all, mosquito repellents don’t kill mosquitoes and instead, coats the skin surface with a substance that makes it less attractive to mosquitoes. The ingredients found in many mosquito repellents mask the natural chemicals that the body naturally produces, which makes it more difficult for mosquitoes to detect your luscious skin.

What Differentiates One Mosquito Repellent from Another?

The effectiveness of the best mosquito repellent products in the market is measured by the Complete Protection Time or CPT, which is the length of time it can repel mosquitoes. The longer the CPT, the better.

3 Types of Insect or Mosquito Repellent Active Ingredients to Know

Mosquito repellents are usually composed of synthetic chemicals and botanical or plant based extracts. They are:

  1. Chemical-Based Compound Repellents: DEET and Picaridin

According to EPA, Us Environmental Protection Agency, those two synthetic active ingredients are known to be the most effective mosquito repellent. They are scientificly proven for its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes and providing longer lasting protection than others.

This synthetic chemical is around in public for use since 1957 and can be the best mosquito repellent in the market until today. The use is usually between 5% until 100% concentration. Basically, the higher the concentration, the longer the protection.

However, under normal conditions, higher concentration isn’t necessary. Only 10 to 35% of DEET is considered enough to repel insects or mosquitoes under most conditions. This will repel them for 3 to 12 hours. Less than that, it will only give a protection for 1 to 3 hours.

Parents however, should take note that products containing more than 10% of DEET should not be used by children since their skin are more susceptible to systemic absorption thus, making them prone to the effects of DEET. For children under 2 years old, it is not recommended to use products with this chemical for their safety. This substance should be used with caution as well among pregnant women.

In the market, this synthetic compound can be found under different brand names and different forms such as lotions, creams, sprays, etc.

Although there have been controversies on its safety, there have been no medical evidence that proves it to be a serious threat to the health. Commercial mosquitoes repellents are deemed safe to use if the instructions are followed properly.

This is a synthetic chemical also known as “Icaridin”, KBR, or Bayrepel has been used worldwide since 1998, and in United States it starts since 2005. As the alternative to DEET, it can be as effective as DEET, but it is odorless, less likely to give a skin irritation, and it won’t melt plastic.

In some studies, the protection provided by Picaridin is shown to last 8 hours compared to DEET that can last for 11 hours. In the market, it is available in aerosols, sprays, pumps, wipes or liquids.

  1. Chemical-Based Compound for Clothing Treatment: Permethrin

Permethrin is actually an EPA approved insecticide and not a repellent. However, it is able to repel and also directly kill mosquitoes and other insects such as ticks and arthropods. It can only be used on shoes, hat, camping gear, bed/mosquito nets and clothing and it should not be used on skin directly.

It can give long lasting protection for minimum 2 weeks, even after several launderings. In Africa where there is a malaria-disease threat, permethrin has been used extensively on mosquito nets to give more protection from mosquito bites.

Combination between skin mosquito repellent and cloth mosquito repellent even brings the best protection towards mosquitoes bites as it is tested in Alaska.

  1. Botanical/Plant-Based/Herbal Insects or Mosquito Repellents (Biopesticide Repellents)

These natural materials or non-chemical-based types of insect or mosquito repellents often become the alternatives when someone wants to avoid some concerns regarding the safety, odor and adverse effects on plastics and synthetic fabrics when they use the chemical ones.

It is important to remember that although they are natural, they may not completely safe as they may bring some effects if they are not used properly as they are suggested. People who use it should also be aware of possible skin reaction when they use it or reapply it more often in a day as it can happen to certain people who have sensitive skin, although this case very rare.