If you are travelling to places where there is increased risk of exposure to these nasties, such as Africa, South America and some parts of Asia, here are some hints about dealing with them gained from own past travel experiences.
- Consult with a travel doctor well prior to depature.
- USE COMMON SENSE PRECAUTIONS: wash your hands after toiletting and before eating. Carry wet wipes for times when water is either unavailable, or may itself be contaminated.
- AVOID CONSUMING CONTAMINATED WATER: Purchase clean drinking water and do not drink it if the seal has been broken. Also use it to clean your teeth and avoid consuming it via uncooked vegetables and fruit that may have been washed in contaminated water.
- AVOID HOOKWORM, TICKS AND BURROWING FLEAS: Wear shoes and socks when outdoors. This also prevents injury from spikey plants.
- FORGET FASHION: wear the most appropriate and practical of clothing. Fly veils can be very useful, as can "headsocks", if insects swarm.
- SOME COLOURS ATTRACT INSECTS: Wear light coloured clothing. Blue, black and dark colours attract such nasties as tetse flies in Africa and human bot flies in South America, Yellow can be a magnet for some bees ad wasps. Pesonally, I swear by my safari wear in the traditional pale kharki or beige. It also often comes with inbuilt insect repellent properties. Better still, it launders easily and dries overnight!!
- WHITE SOCKS will quickly alert you to leech, or tick bite related blood on your feet or legs. Dark ones may mask it, leaving you with an extra load of anti-coagulant and the likelihood of infection and, or scaring when the parasite is removed. Carry a small quantity of salt if you are heading into leech, or tick territory.
- Tuck your trousers into your socks, so insects, such as fire ants will have increased difficulty climbing up your legs. It is not nice being attacked by these critters who mass on your legs and attack in unison. This happened to me at Lake Nakuru when I was out birding and standing on grass. I had to return to my room and undress completely to rid myself of all these painful, stinging and burning critters; ouch!
- Gaiters and gum boots can also be useful in avoiding the nasties!
- PREVENT BITES: make use of mosquito nets at night and use an effective repellent. Being allergic to DEET based insect repellents, I have found MOSI-GUARD, extremely effective and skin friendly. No nasty rashes or inflamation have resulted. I have used it in Kenya and Tanzania to repel tetse flies and mosquitos.
- Wash your clothes, including hats, sleeping bags and mosquito nets in a parasite preventative repellent solution that contains permethrin prior to departure. Allergy test one item first against your skin. This is available at specialty travel shops or your travel health doctor. Iron clothes or expose to a clothes dryer hot cycle to kill human bot fly eggs.
- Light a mosquito coil at night if heading to a seriously high risk malarial area, such as the Amazon. These are light to carry in your luggage and take up very little space. Local people will be able to inform you as to whether the local mosquito population is at its peak, or fairly inactive, as mosquito presence is as seasonal as stagnant water!
- Use a prophylaxis against malaria and dengue fever.
- ZIP UP LUGGAGE: nasties have a habit of crawling in and hiding amongst your stuff. Never, ever keep food in your luggage, or your room, where insects and wild animals are looking for something tasty to eat.
- Get staff to check your room for visiting snakes, scorpions and other beasties while you are at dinner, especially if your accomodation has open doors or windows. Keep tents zipped up and use insect screens if equipped.
- Make friends with beneficial creatures like geckoes and some spiders, who eat mosquitos and flies. Make them welcome in your accomodation.
- SEEK MEDICAL HELP IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN or used as a host by a parasite!
Remember, parasites and other nasties also exist in your own country and you would not be human, unless you are already carrying a load of both beneficial and irratating. Never avoid going to an exciting destination due to your fear of such critters. Most sound way worse than they are. Be vigilant and odds are you will not become a host to an unwanted guest, or fall prey to malaria or dengue fever, as part of your travel adventure.
For accurate information about parasites themselves and means of preventing and treating them, within and beyond countries you intend travelling to I have found the following sites useful: