Insect Bite Prevention
Many travel-related diseases are transmitted by infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. Before you travel, be aware of insects at your destination that cause disease.
To minimize your risk, you should always practise protective measures to avoid insect bites and ensure you have the appropriate preventive vaccines and/or medications.
Consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Protect yourself from bites:
1. Cover up:
- Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved, tucked-in shirts, long pants, shoes or boots (not sandals), and a hat; you can also tape the cuffs of your pants or tuck them inside your socks, shoes or boots.
2. Use insect repellent on exposed skin:
- Of the insect repellents registered in Canada, those containing DEET are the most effective.
- Use as directed by the manufacturer.
- Do not apply to cuts, abrasions or irritated skin.
- Do not spray directly on the face.
- Wash your hands after application, to avoid contact with lips and eyes.
- Do not use products that contain both insect repellent and sunscreen.
- If application of sunscreen and repellent with DEET is required, apply the sunscreen first and let it soak into the skin for about 20 minutes, then apply repellent with DEET.
- After returning indoors, wash off repellent.
3. Consider your accommodations:
- Stay in a well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned room.
- Avoid staying in poorly constructed housing such as mud, adobe, or thatch (plant stalks or foliage used for roofing) structures.
4. Sleep under a bed net, preferably treated with insecticide:
- Ensure the net is intact (no tears).
- Tuck it under the mattress.
- Ensure it is not touching you (or you may still be bitten through the net).
- Use for playpens, cribs, or strollers to protect young children.
5. Apply a permethrin insecticide to clothing and other travel gear for greater protection
- Permethrin-treated clothing is effective for up to two weeks or six washings.
- Although permethrin is not available in Canada, travel health clinics can advise you how to purchase permethrin and pre-treated gear before or during your trip.
- If You Get Sick After Travelling
- Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
- Sickness or Injury
- Statement on Personal Protective Measures to Prevent Arthropod Bites, The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT)
- Date modified: