Many recent news articles have shown us reports of increased rainfall and flooding in many areas of the world, including Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. Travelers should use this as a reminder to stay safe from areas prone to flooding or landslide, and be extra aware of the risk of disease from Mosquito bites. Some illnesses can be avoided by using medication or vaccine.
After floods initially there is an increase in food and water-borne disease, and then comes the increase in mosquito borne diseases ranging from, yellow fever, dengue fever and even yellow fever
Each continent has its particular issues, but dengue fever is common to all. Dengue has become the most common mosquito borne disease globally and 2.5 billion people are living where it can be transmitted. This particular virus becomes haemorrhagic in 1-2 % of cases. Dengue can cause feverish illness with headache and muscle pains like a severe prolonged case of flu, and possibly a rash. A more severe form – Dengue Hemorrhagic fever can develop, especially in children
Bite prevention is the only protection against diseases. It is essential to 40-50% DEET skin sprays or lotions for exposed areas of skin, and to cover up, ideally with clothes treated with an insecticide such as EX4 this is permetherine based and when spayed lightly on to outer clothing remains protective for up to 35 washes. It is also essential to sleep under a Mosquito Net, or in an air conditioned room, preferably with a room plug in or insect spray to kill any mossies that have snuck in. Remember also, that while Malaria mosquitoes bite mostly in the dusk to dawn period, other mosquitoes potentially carrying illness will bite mainly during the day. So please keep skin sprays and clothes to cover up with handy at all times.
Following the floods, Health Ministers in Australia have warned of a likely increase in cases of diseases such as Ross River virus, Barmah Forrest virus, Dengue Fever and Murray Valley Encephalitis, all spread through infected mosquito bites. Murray Valley Encephalitis causes fever and headache and may leave residual nervous system problems. Ross River and Barmah virus, and Dengue fever can cause feverish illness, with headache and muscle and joint pains similar to a severe prolonged case of flu and rash. Symptoms and fatigue can persist for weeks.
Wet conditions will lead to an increase in the mosquito population and potential mosquito borne illness.
Yellow Fever- The area of Brazil considered affected by Yellow Fever extended during the last 18 months following an outbreak. The mosquito problem worsens after floods, as there may be a lot of standing fresh water. Dengue Fever –Spread through mosquito bites. Many states of Brazil have already reported a large increase in cases of this disease during that last 12 months. An increase mosquito breeding areas during the recent heavy rain, flooding and landslides will lead to an explosion in the mosquito population
Sri Lanka has also sadly been affected by recent heavy rainfall and flooding, with associated loss of life. Flooding and destruction leads to an increase in areas of standing water, the mosquito breeding ground, and is expected to cause a rise in mosquito numbers, causing concern for an increase in mosquito borne disease.
Japanese Encephalitis- spread by infected mosquito bites. Vaccination is recommended for those likely to be frequently exposed to bites during their visit.
Parts of Sri Lanka, particularly in the north are affected by malaria, and travelers to these areas may be advised to take medication to prevent infection. There may be a lower risk of malaria in other areas, and all travelers to Sri Lanka should use strict bite prevention measures (skin spray, cover up, mossie nets and mossie coils) and seek medical advice if they become unwell with a feverish illness.
Here at The Travel Clinic we can help with vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever but the most important thing is protect yourself from mosquito bites!