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Malaria and Insect Borne Diseases

While the sound of the buzz from a mosquito is annoying, a diseased bite can be very disruptive to your travel plans. Avoidance is key where and when possible. Our partners at Nomad Travel have put together this guide for you.

A wide range of tropical diseases are spread by biting insects, the most dangerous to the traveller being the risk of catching malaria. Antimalaria tablets are not always 100% effective and due to resistance of the parasites to these drugs, so precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes must be taken by travellers to malaria endemic areas - see our Bite Avoidance Check List. It should also be emphasised that malaria is not the only potential problem and the information regarding bite avoidance can reduce the risk of a range of other tropical diseases

Once you have decided on your journey plan, check with your local GP or specialised travel clinic which diseases are endemic to your destinations or phone the Travel Health line on: 09068 633414 (calls cost £1.00 per min - UK only).


Anti-malarials tablets are available from Nomad by making an appointment in a Nomad Travel Clinic. Please call your closest Nomad Travel Clinic for further information.


- The most dangerous disease to travellers predominately to the tropics
- Transmitted by female Anopheles mosquito which feeds from dusk to dawn
- Areas affected: South-east Asia, Pacific, Africa, South America

- Use chemo prophylaxis (antimalarials)
- Cover up with long sleeves, trousers and socks from dusk to dawn
- Use insect repellents
- Treat your clothing with Bugproof Clothing Treatment
- Sleep under a treated mosquito net
- Carry standby malaria treatment with you if you are travelling 24 hours away from medical help

If you suspect that you are having an attack of malaria seek medical help immediately.
There are certain situations such as trekking or in rural areas with poor transport where you may need to start treating yourself.
Here is a brief guide:
- Commonest symptoms: fever, chills, headache.
- Other symptoms that may occur: cough, stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomiting which may mislead you into thinking some other disease is responsible.

Alternatively the fever and chills could be due to an infection not specific to the area being visited such as flu or other viruses. As a general rule, if you develop a fever in an area where malaria is known to be present or you have passed through a malaria zone and there is no medical help available, then start a course of treatment as advised by your health adviser prior to your departure. Click here to watch our video info on Malaria

Treatments are available in the UK on a prescription following consulation with a doctor and specialist travel clinic. Remember - Malaria can take weeks or months to develop after being bitten. Even if the treatment appears to be working still seek medical advice as soon as possible.


- Transmitted by Sandfly
- Most active at dawn and dusk
- Areas affected: Southern Mediterranean, Middle East, Northern Africa, parts of Central Africa, South-east Asia
- Sleep under a treated
mosquito net (they can enter an untreated net)
- Sandflies find it hard to jump up high so sleeping high up such as on the roof of a building is a good deterrent
- Use insect repellents
- Avoid moving around outside at dusk and dawn

Sleeping Sickness

- Transmitted by the Tsetse fly
- Feed during the daytime
- Attracted to dark blue clothing
- Attracted to fast moving objects such as a vehicle on safari
- Areas affected: Tropical Africa
- Cover up with long sleeves, trousers and socks
Repellents have some use, but not always effective
- Treat your clothing with Bugproof clothing treatment
- In a vehicle, keep the windows closed and use a knock down spray containing Permethrin to kill any flies already in the vehicle

Tick Borne Encephalitis, Lyme Disease and Typhus

- All transmitted by ticks
- Live in warm forested areas, moorland, grassland
- Areas affected: Each of the above diseases are found in different parts of the world, however, ticks carrying diseases affect most parts of the world
- Cover up with trousers and socks
- Apply
Bugproof clothing treatment to your socks and trousers
- When walking in suspect areas regularly check for ticks
- If an embedded tick is found, slowly pull the tick out with tweezers avoiding leaving any of it behind in the skin

Dengue Fever

- Transmitted by Aedes mosquito
- Daytime feeder
- Areas affected: South-east Asia, Pacific, Africa, Caribbean, South America, North Australia
- Cover up with long sleeves, trousers and socks
- Use insect repellents
- Treat your clothing with Bugproof clothing treatment

Yellow Fever

- Transmitted by 'rain forest' and 'city' mosquito
- The Aedes mosquito is active during daylight hours and bites from dawn to dusk
- Areas affected: Rain forest areas of South America and Central Africa
- Vaccination - virtually 100% effective
- Use
insect repellents


- Parasitic worm transmitted by Black fly
- Flies found near swiftly flowing rivers
- Can cause blindness if not treated
- Areas affected: Tropical Africa, Central and South America, Yemen
- Avoiding staying in such areas for long periods of time

When kitting out for your trip
bite avoidance should be high on your list. Even if your trip is not to an area where biting insects are likely to the carrying diseases, being bitten by insects can still cause you problems with itching, infected bites and other side effects.


Most expeditions are in rural settings.Your leader will be able to tell you what sort of environment and health risks from biting insects you can expect. Use the information above and Usage Guidelines  below to help you choose the right products for your trip. If you are the leader, it could save you a lot of hassle if you encourage all group members to carry the same supplies.

You need to take a bit of everything to cover all the possible eventualities. When you arrive at a destination, it is worth making a trip to the local tourist office or asking a local who will more than likely know if you are entering a biting insect health risk zone. If you discover you are, utilise bite avoidance measures immediately - but if you are unsure, use them anyway.


Cities are generally less affected by diseases from biting insects as rural areas but this is not an absolute rule. There are always bed bugs and mosquitoes to be found in non-air conditioned hotel bedrooms. If you are prone to being bitten, it's always better to sleep under a mosquito net even in non-disease risk areas.


Some Jungle and tropical regions of the world are the home of the most life-threatening insect-borne diseases. Mosquitoes are your main problem and ticks or chigger fleas can also cause some tropical diseases. Rigorous bite avoidance measures are essential as part of your daily routine. Ensure you take enough supplies for any travel off-the-beaten track keeping in mind re-application is frequent. Keep repellent on you at all times.


Anywhere there is water there are insects. In dry areas of the world, water holes are the main breeding ground for mosquitoes. You may wish to take a head net for extra protection and comfort in the early evenings. There may be other insects such as sand flies which carry diseases. Check out the area you are visiting or passing through with our travel health centre to find out if you will be at risk of insect-borne diseases.


Trekking over 2000 metres altitudes is safe from malaria as the mosquitoes don't tend to survive. Repellent may be useful if you are camping around water.

Insect Repellents

Check list of bite avoidance measures
Insect Repellents (For skin - best if malaria is a danger)
50% DEET spray/lotion

Contact Killers

- Bugproof Clothing Treatment works very effectively in conjunction with skin applied repellents
- Mosquito net treatments. Protects you in your net even if there is a hole or you are touching the net when sleeping
- Burning coils are very effective for keeping insects away from you outside
- Knock down sprays are used to clear rooms or vehicles prior to entering
- Plug-ins are useful for clearing rooms where there is a reliable electricity supply

Insect Repellent Usage Guidelines

50% Deet skin-applied repellent
Normal conditions every 4-5 hours
Humid conditions every 1-2 hours

Natural skin-applied repellent

Normal conditions 3-4 hours
Humid conditions 1-2 hours

100% Deet impregnated bands or clothing
Every 4 days if stored in airtight bag when not in use

Contact killer Bugproof clothing treatment
One treatment lasts for 2 weeks with one
wash in between treatment

Contact killer Mosquito net treatment
When to apply
Frequent handling Every 6 weeks
Static use Every 3 months
After washing Re-treat

Quick reference guide to diseases spread by insects

Mosquito - Malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filarial

Black Fly -
Onchocerciasis (river blindness)

Sandfly -

Tsetse Fly -
Sleeping sickness

Ticks -
Encephalitis, lyme disease, typhus

Mosquito Nets & Head Nets

- Mosquito Nets - essential in areas where insect borne diseases are endemic. Also use for a comfortable nights' sleep where insects are a nuisance
- Head Nets - use where insects are likely to swarm