Up till now my holidays haven’t seen me leave Europe- so, no need for visas, and most importantly no need for shots (immunisations). But with an upcoming planned family trip to Thailand, I am becoming more aware of potential health risks we could face.
My sister-in-law and family live in the outskirts of Phuket, Thailand. I am told that this area has mosquitoes that transmit dengue but malaria is not a problem! So, although we can take anti-malarial tablets, this does not offer protection against dengue fever.
The main advice is to avoid a mosquito bite in the first place! Not very reassuring.
Last year my sister-in-law did in fact get dengue fever. She developed a high temperature with shivers and spent the night in hospital as there was a concern about her becoming dehydrated. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do against dengue fever. She felt very bad for a week and unable to look after our nephew as she felt too lethargic and weak. One of the most surprising (to me) reactions she developed was hair loss – for about 4 to 5 months after being struck with the disease, she experienced continual hair loss (luckily she had very thick curly hair, so she didn’t go bald), and what hair she was left with was in very bad condition.
She wasn’t surprised that she got dengue as many of her friends and colleagues had had it before also, which just underlines how common it is in that part of Thailand. For your info, Dengue is transmitted primarily by Aedes Mosquitoes.
My main concern now though is protecting my child (under 2) against mosquito bites when we are in Phuket. My sister-in-law says anti-malarial baby lotions are available – made from natural ingredients like eucalyptus, which is supposed to deter mosquitoes. I will be dousing my child in that lotion and trying a few other steps too.
Practices I will try to use to avoid mosquito bites:
- Avoid outdoors from dusk till dawn – we can limit this on holiday, but not always possible. We will want to be able to eat out in the evenings, although this will be earlier on with a child in tow.
- Wear light coloured clothing – I will dress my child in the brightest clothing available, if it will help!
- Minimize exposed skin – swapping my shorts for long trousers, and T-shirt for long sleeved tops, sounds good in practice but knowing how warm and humid it gets in Thailand, this could be a very uncomfortable option.
- Use insect sprays – out with my expensive perfume, and in with the must-have insect repellent!
- Mosquito netting – this will be an absolute must around my child’s cot and our bed.
- Using fans at night in our bedroom – mosquitoes are actually quite weak fliers, so the air movement could help to deter them.
So are you travelling to any mosquito hotspots in the near future?! If so, make sure you know about how to prevent mosquito bites. Good luck!
For more info about Dengue and mosquito diseases, visit the CDC website.