Avoid bug bites
Bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and some flies, can spread diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and Lyme, all of which have risk of severe and lasting consequences. Several diseases spread by bug bites cannot be prevented or treated with vaccines or medicine, such as Zika, dengue, and Lyme. Reduce your risk of getting these diseases by taking steps to prevent bug bites.
What You Should Know Before You Go
Current Risks to Consider
- Dengue viruses are spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms of mild dengue include fever with any of the following: nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains (eye pain typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint, or bone pain).Mild dengue symptoms can become severe within a few hours. Severe dengue is a medical emergency. There is no vaccine to prevent dengue, and there is no treatment. Protect yourself by preventing mosquito bites.
- Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms, which can include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and muscle pain. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, and there is no treatment. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects. Healthcare providers should discuss the risk of Zika to pregnant couples or couples trying to get pregnant who plan to travel to an area with risk of Zika.
- Risks for Pregnant Women: Some infections, including Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, CDC recommends pregnant women and couples trying to become pregnant within the next 3 months work with their health care providers to carefully consider the risks and possible consequences of travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must travel to an area with past or present Zika transmission, strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Because infection during pregnancy can cause severe brain defects, CDC recommends that pregnant women do not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.
- Malaria is a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes. It can lead to serious illness and can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms of malaria can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. If symptoms of malaria occur, travelers should seek medical attention immediately. Before you leave, check your destination for a risk of malaria. If malaria is present, consult your doctor to assess your risk and choose the most appropriate anti-malarial medicine.
- Risks for Pregnant Women: Pregnant women infected with malaria can transmit the parasites to their child during pregnancy, or before or during delivery. CDC recommends that pregnant women talk to their doctor if traveling to areas with risk of malaria. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Check Your Destination for Health Risks.
Find out what shots, medicines, or advice can help you to prevent bug-bite diseases where you are going.
Prevent Bug Bites During Your Trip
Use Insect Repellent
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Find an EPA-registered insect repellent that’s right for you.
- The effectiveness of insect repellents not registered with the EPA, including some natural repellents, is not known.
How to Apply Insect Repellent: Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply as directed.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first, and insect repellent second.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
Application Instructions for Children
- Do NOT use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Dress babies younger than 2 months old in clothing that covers arms and legs, and cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do NOT use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- Do NOT apply insect repellent to children’s hands, eyes, mouths, cuts, or irritated skin.
- Do NOT spray into a face. To apply insect repellent to your child’s face, spray into onto your hands, then rub it on their face.
- Keep insect repellent out of the reach of children.
Permethrin: Treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) with 0.5% permethrin (an insecticide). You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do NOT use permethrin directly on skin.
Cover Exposed Skin: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Some bugs, such as tsetse flies, can bite through thin fabric.
Avoid Bugs Where You Are Staying: Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air-conditioned or have window and door screens with no holes, so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress.
Other Bugs to Consider at Your Destination
- Page created: April 21, 2013
- Page last updated: March 28, 2019
- Page last reviewed: March 28, 2019
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