31 October 2008

The mosquito menace

Everything you need to know to keep the potentially deadly malaria mosquito (and its equally vexing sisters) at bay this summer.

People attract mosquitoes through the heat and chemical substances produced by their bodies. The carbon dioxide we breathe out is the biggest attraction.

Drink me!
No preventive medicines are 100% effective against malaria but it would be unwise not to take them. Chloroquine can be used only in areas that don't have chloroquine-resistant malaria. Use Malarone, doxycycline or primaquine in these areas. Another common drug, mefloquine (Lariam), has an unpleasant side-effect: it sometimes makes people think they're going mad.

What's more, the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to it. Some medicines aren't suitable for small children, pregnant women and porphyria sufferers so ask your pharmacist.

10 natural mosquito repellents

  • cinnamon oil
  • citronella oil
  • eucalyptus oil
  • castor oil
  • rosemary oil
  • citron grass
  • cedar oil
  • oil of cloves
  • geranium oil
  • peppermint oil

What attracts mosquitoes?
Have you ever wondered why mosquitoes seem to single you out?

Research has shown mosquitoes have strong likes and dislikes. Here are a few indicators - some scientifically proven and others just conjecture - as to what these pesky insects prefer. Mosquitoes . . .

  • prefer blondes to brunettes.
  • like kids better than adults.
  • zone in on women who're ovulating.
  • adore smelly feet.
  • like sweet-smelling perfume.
  • are attracted by lactic acid, which your body releases naturally after exercise.
  • like you if you use certain medications such as ones for heart disease, blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The natural products above will keep mosquitoes away but they must be applied every two hours, reports. Natural products aren't necessarily safer or as effective as chemical products and manufacturers' directions should be followed at all times.

Preventing malaria
Are you planning a trip to northeastern Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Kruger Park, other countries in Africa south of the Sahara, Central or South America or any tropical region in Asia? In that case see your doctor or pharmacist to find out about antimalarial drugs at least six weeks before you leave.

  • Spray mosquito repellent aerosol on your skin, sleep under a mosquito net and between sheets treated with mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the early mornings and at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Consult your doctor if you have any flu-like symptoms after a trip to a malaria area and after you've stopped taking antimalarial drugs.

Did you know?
Only the female mosquito bites- it uses the protein in our blood to produce eggs

(YOU Pulse; Summer, December 2007)

Read more:
What is malaria?
Malaria: things you should know


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