Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Travel Pests

I am taking a trip to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands starting tomorrow (or today, as I time travel back a day over the international date line). This, and my last blog on how to protect yourself from bed bugs while travelling, have suggested that you might be interested in ways to stay safe from all sorts of pests while overseas.

What are the pests you might need protection from while travelling abroad?

There are some obvious ones such as mosquitoes and other biting flying insects in tropical countries. Many of these carry tropical diseases and are more than just an annoyance.

There are many of the pests you would encounter in New Zealand that are also pests in other countries, rats, mice, ants and fleas spring to mind.

Then there are exotic pests that are specific hazards of certain parts of the world; venomous spiders and snakes, biting ants and even larger dangerous animals such as crocodiles. Perhaps the largest 'pest' problem I have ever had was during a stay at an African safari lodge when an elephant got into the hotel compound. It was a pest by definition as an animal in the 'wrong' place. It was not shot, I am glad to say, but was coaxed by a dozen men to leave the compound and the fence repaired to keep him out. This is what I would call elephant proofing.

I will over this and my next few blogs describe ways to protect yourself from some of these pest threats. Starting with my trip to Rarotonga in mind I will discuss the likely pests in those topical islands.

The mosquito is a blood sucking insect found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics and even into temperate regions. The mosquito is a carrier and transmitter of many blood borne diseases, the major ones being malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever but there are many more.

It is more than a wise precaution to be well prepared to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting and blood sucking insects while travelling, particularly to warm countries where the insects are accompanied by risk of disease.

Most hotels in susceptible countries will have routine programs of mosquito control where they search for mosquito breeding sites (stagnant water) and treat the hotel with mosquito control products. Even with these measures you may still be at risk of bites while sitting by the pool or lying in your bed at night. But when you are away from the safety of your hotel you are most at risk. Personal insect repellent is the essential tool for preventing mosquito bites.

Safari Insect repellents come in various forms. There is the stick and roll on that contain the two strongest repellents DEET and DMP. There is a handy aerosol containing DMP and then for those that prefer to protect themselves with natural repellents there are the Organic Safari Wipes containing a combination of essential oils.

Mosquitoes are active at dusk, dawn and during the night.They are attracted to their blood feed (you) by heat and carbon dioxide from your breath. So keep the windows and doors to your bedroom closed at night unless there are mosquito nets fitted.

Some people react badly to mosquito bites and the bite sites become itchy and swollen. Take antihistamine tablets and cream with you for treatment of itchy bites. If bites become particularly swollen or do not reduce over a day or two seek medical advice.

Stay safe on your next holiday and be prepared for the pests found at your destination.

Why are fleas, bed bugs and mosquitoes all so easily fooled?
Because they are born suckers

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