I decided to go a little off the beaten track here and write something different than just what I’ve been doing. I am currently in Indonesia and about to head into some areas with a little more malaria than I’ve been exposed to but in three and a half months of travelling I have not been stung once by a mosquito so my fear of it is dwindling but still somewhat present, I don’t want to be reckless. This led me to do research, online, so whatever that is worth and I’ve come to a couple interesting thoughts, theories and maybe facts based on that research and talking to others about it, including doctors, travel nurses, travel veterans and so on.
The specific situation here is that I am going through is I will be doing a 4 day boat ride from Flores to Lombok and was looking into where there was malaria so I could take better precautions.
After having come from Jakarta(Java) and into Bali I knew the risk of malaria was increasing so I got into the habit of always putting on my preventive measures before going out before I needed them. Now that I am getting deeper into Indonesia I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into.
Turns out there are very little cases of deaths by Malaria in Indonesia so it is considered a safer place and most rural areas(Where I am staying most of the time) are safe. However I do want to be as safe and as smart as possible so I researched Malaria medicine considering the most recommended one, Malarone, doesn’t agree with my body and makes me very sick.
Most of what I read up was that prevention of a bite in general is the best way of prevention, the pills you would be taken do not guarantee that you are immune they simple give you a small dose of the disease so your body can develop the anti-bodies for the actual full blown sickness, it wont stop malaria it will only help control the symptoms, they help control the spread once you’ve been infected instead of killing the infection.
Bottom line, prevention is way more important than the prescribed pills for it, which don’t come cheap in Canada. I’ve been travelling for 3 months and been trying different kinds of prevention, lemongrass spray, canned DEET sprays and DEET creams. I have found the lemongrass most effective however it must be applied more often, the lemongrass generates a very unpleasant smell for the mosquito. Turns out they would avoid me more when I did spray the lemongrass on. The DEET spray and cream would make me feel like I was putting on very strong chemicals on my skin but still found mosquitoes would hover around me a little more making me paranoid. But I still managed to avoid bites with both of these. Here is a link to help you make your own if you wanted 🙂
Another useful tip I’ve read up on and got from the amazon was to wear bright colored clothing, not sure on the logic behind this but maybe something you can try. I love wearing colors so for me this was a non-issue. I’ve also heard mosquitoes love sugar and the smell of it. So avoiding perfumes and soaps that smell fruity would be a good idea. They can also detect the sugar in you, so the more sweets you eat, apparently will make you more attractive to getting stung. Things to keep in mind. 🙂 I don’t have a sweet tooth so once again I find that may have helped me avoid getting stung for so long.
Not once have I used a mosquito net but I’ve also been able to find rooms with proper AC or sprayed my bed quite well with my lemongrass spray while making sure my body was covered by something. I do have a net available and was planning on using it during my boat cruise.
My research led me to how Malaria is actually spread. From a female mosquito looking for blood to help deliver it’s eggs. You can recognize her when she lands because she will keep her stinger up. She also mostly stings from dusk till dawn and needs to lay her eggs in a dark and damp area so if you stay away from those you will be okay. Above 1200 meters, the virus does not live so if you are trekking a mountain or volcano like I plan to do. Malaria is not a huge issue however precautions should still be taken. I will still be putting on my lemongrass solution.
Here is another link that may help but there is a lot of information here 🙂 Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much and I hope this helps your decision making in the future 🙂
Stay awesome and follow your dreams!