Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Education of Julee: Lesson 2. Protection from mozzies and "no see-ums".

I thought that since it was going to be cold on some of the days during this trip, that I wouldn't have to worry about fending off the mosquitoes and "no see-ums" but it seems they will be out in force despite the temperatures and humidity. Apparently, the "no see-ums" are particularly nasty at the higher elevations. Oh joy!

For whatever reason, biting insects just LOVE me and so I NEED PROTECTION from these annoying creatures - especially the mosquitoes as these are the carriers of West Nile, malaria and dengue fever and ticks which carry Lyme disease. I'm hoping that the "no see-ums" will be more annoying than biting.....ever so hopeful, I am :-)

After a round of surfing on the web, I came to the conclusion that the most commonly suggested forms of bug protection (which all make sense) are:

a. Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. This solution is a no-brainer though I swear that I've been bitten, on more that one occasion, through my clothes and so I'm planning on spraying a couple of my outfits with Permethrin (otherwise sold as Permanone) which is suppose to make your clothes repellent to mosquitoes and ticks. I don't trust blood thirsty insects!

b. Use a repellent containing DEET. According to all the articles I've read, DEET is the "gold standard" for bug protection but it's also had a bad rap recently so I wanted to find out more about it.

According to the EPA website, DEET is safe as long as you use it properly (no surprises here) ........though it's not recommended for use under clothing so it's going to be a bit of toss up between wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants and slathering myself with DEET!
I checked out the aisles at CVS, Target and Sports Authority and as expected, was overwhelmed by the range of repellents and it quickly became obvious that they came in different forms (lotion, aerosol, pump spray, gel) and with different levels of DEET. So which product is the "right" product? Back to the web where I found this article on the Annals of Internal Medicine website where it says that the US Army issues repellent containing 35% DEET to its troops. 
 
So, after all this research and time spent, the one remaining unknown is whether or not what I bring with me will work ....and work well. I guess I really won't know until after I get back from the trip :-(

c. Take anti-malarial medicine. After going over the various options with the nurse at the Health Room, I got a prescription for Lariam which I have to start taking a week before I arrive in the malarial area, the whole time I'm there and then for 4 weeks afterwards. Ugh.

...and who says it's easy to go away on vacation :-)