Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism. Diseases transmitted include: malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis and Zika fever, to name but a few! Over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. The volume of misery caused by the skin irritation is simply vast !
To help prevent mosquito vectored issues in our world-wide travelling Yachting community, I thought the following would be helpful:
ARE SOME OF US REALLY MORE ATTRACTIVE TO MOSQUITOS?
In a nutshell, the answer is YES! Research has demonstrated that up to 20% of the population are consistently bitten more often than the other 80%. Scientists have a number of theories as to why. These include:
BLOOD TYPE: It is known that different blood types secrete sugars through the skin that mosquitoes sense. Studies as early as 1972 suggest that mosquitoes seem to prefer those with Type O blood. Indeed, mosquitoes land on skin with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fall somewhere in between this range.
CARBON DIOXIDE: Mosquitoes are attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide and can detect it from up to 50 metres away. Consequently, those that exhale more i.e. often larger people with increased body mass, are more likely to be bitten.
METABOLISM: Mosquitoes seek substances including compounds secreted in skin and sweat, such as lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia, steroids, and cholesterol. Strenuous exercise can result in a build-up of lactic acid which may make individuals more susceptible. Genetic factors are likely be involved in the composition of these substances.
BACTERIA: Large numbers of bacterial species naturally inhabit human skin. Researchers have shown that certain bacterial subtypes present in large numbers e.g. Staphylococcus epidermidis, make individuals more attractive to mosquitoes.
PREGNANCY: Pregnant women are more susceptible than non-pregnant women. Possibly because they exhale relatively more carbon dioxide and have a higher resting body temperature.
ADVICE FOR PREVENTING MOSQUITO BITES
Always follow product directions and reapply as directed.
Avoid applying repellent to hands, eyes, and mouth.
If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
A few plant based chemicals offer some protection against mosquito bites. They are not as effective as DEET and are not recommended as the only protection. They include citronella, lemon eucalyptus and neem.
ADVICE FOLLOWING MOSQUITO BITES
Insect bites commonly cause lumps (papules), itching (pruritus), and wheals (urticarial) skin reactions. Occasionally, small blisters (bullae) may develop. The bites should usually settle within a few hours to a few days.
We wish you well avoiding the nuisance that is a mosquito !