Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, body lice and bedbugs are the insects most likely to spread disease. Mosquitoes are perhaps the best-known insect vector (an insect that spreads or transmits disease), and spread malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus. Ticks can spread Lyme disease and encephalitis, while flies spread bacterial diseases by contaminating food and body lice spread typhus. Other insects like hornets, wasps, and bees may have a painful sting.
Insect repellents are one of the best ways to keep bugs off your body and reduce the risk of being bitten or stung. The Environmental Protective Agency has a list of approved repellents recommended for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. Most contain N, picardinN-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET), which is considered the most effective of available repellents. Other repellents picaridin, oil of eucalyptus, or a product called IR3535. These are effective against mosquitoes but may not work as well against other insects.
Always follow package instructions and reapply at the intervals directed. Use separate products for sunscreen and repellent; apply the sunscreen first and let it dry before using repellent. Don’t spray repellent on skin covered by clothing. Clothing that has been treated with an insecticide is available, or people can treat their own clothing; follow instructions carefully. Repellents should not be used on babies under the age of 2 months, but other tactics can be used.
When outside, clothing like long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and hats offer protection. Shirts should be tucked into pants and pants tucked into socks. The thin fabric may allow insects like tsetse flies to bite through the material. Choose hotel rooms with air conditioning, windows, and door screens. Sleep under a mosquito net and drape netting over a baby’s car seat or infant carrier. Area repellents can be used outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.