Medical Services & Travel Clinic
Hato International Airport, Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean

Tel: (+5999) 888 7511 Fax: (+5999) 888 7512
E-mail: info@portomedico.com

Healthy Travel Advice

  1. Checklist
  2. Prevention - Food, Drink and Hygiene
  3. Mosquito Bite Prevention

Checklist

Checklist for the traveler Depending on destination:
  • Risks related to the area (urban or rural )causing diseases
  • Type of accommodation (hotel, camping)
  • Length of stay
  • Altitude
  • Security problem (conflict area)
  • Vaccination status
  • Availability of medication and medical facilities
  • Medical insurance with appropriate cover abroad, including medical repatriation.

Prevention

You can help prevent most common travel-related illnesses with simple precautions such as taking care with food and water and preventing insect bites.

FOOD, DRINK and HYGIENE

Good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing is important to help to protect yourself. Safer eating and drinking habits can also make a difference.

Many diseases are caught by consuming contaminated food or drink. These include Traveler's Diarrhea, Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever.

Travelers diarrhea is the most frequent illness associated with travel to developing countries, affecting 30-80% of travelers in the first two weeks of their trip.

“Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it” is the golden rule.

  • Drinking water: boil or sterilise it before use. Use bottled water and check the seal is intact on purchase. Use for drinking, washing food and for cleaning your teeth.
  • Avoid both ICE CUBES and ICE CREAM unless you are sure that they are made from clean water.
  • Avoid food which has been reheated, kept warm or exposed to flies.
  • Avoid uncooked food unless you have prepared it YOURSELF.
  • Shellfish is particularly hazardous.
  • Remember that salads washed in untreated water will be unclean.
  • Avoid un-pasteurized milk or boil it before use.
  • Always wash hands before eating

Mosquito bite prevention

There are about 3500 species of mosquitoes found throughout the world. In some species of mosquito, the females feed on humans, and therefore transmit a number of infectious diseases affecting more than 700 millions of people every year, causing more than 2 million deaths per year. 1 out of 17 people die due to a disease transmitted by a mosquito bite!!

The principal mosquito borne diseases are Malaria, Yellow fever, Dengue, Chikungunya and West Nile virus.

Apart from acting as carriers of disease, insect bites can result in unpleasant and occasionally serious skin reactions. The bite can be sore but is often painless.

Mosquitoes prefer some people over others. The preferential victims sweat simply smells better than others; CO2 released from breath and skin serves as a long range airborne attractant, at distances up to 36 meter. Lactic acid, skin warmth and moisture serve also as attractants.

Avoid being bitten!

There are several practical measures that individuals can take to avoid insect bites. A combination of these measures is usually most effective.

  • Wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and long trousers
  • Apply Deet to exposed skin
  • Apply Permethrin to clothing
  • Use bed nets that have been impregnated with Permethrim

A long sleeved shirt, socks, full length pants will readily protect most of the skin surface. Light colored clothing will attract fewer mosquitoes and other insects.

Applying insect repellent may be the most effective and easiest way. Deet remains the gold standard of presently available insect repellents. As a general rule, higher concentrations of Deet will provide longer lasting protection. Up to 50% Deet repellent is appropriate to use and protects up to 10 hours.

There are always concerns about the use of insect repellents during pregnancy. So far no contraindications were found. In the USA , both the American Academy of Environmental Protection Agency and the American Academy of Pediatrics have withdrawn restrictions about Deet concentration for use in children. Care should be taken to avoid Deet contact with plastics, such as watches and frames of sun-glasses, since Deet may damage these.

Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spray an insecticide or repellent on them. Insect repellents should also be used on exposed skin.

When using sprays do not spray directly onto face; spray on hands first and then apply to face. Don't apply to eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

Herbal insect repellents are less effective than Deet.

Garlic, Vitamin B and ultrasound devices do not prevent bites.

Select accommodations with well screened windows, mosquito nets or air conditioning when possible. Bed nets are most effective when impregnated with an insecticide such as permethrin.

Permethrin does not repel insects, but works as a contact insecticide, causing nervous toxicity, leading to death or "knockdown" of the insect. Permethrin should be applied directly to clothing or to bed nets, not to skin.

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