Nepal is a country where malaria and dengue occur frequently. Although the risk for the average tourist or expatriate is low, travelling through the southern Terai region can make you highly vulnerable to these diseases.
Malaria and dengue are life-threatening diseases typically transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Malaria is transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito whereas dengue fever is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Both of these diseases carry similar symptoms such as high fever, profuse sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin rashes, etc.
The best way to prevent malaria and dengue is to avoid mosquito bites. So if you don’t want to be a victim of malaria or dengue during your visit to Nepal, the following tips may help.
1. Identify your level of risk for malaria and dengue
The first thing to do is to inform yourself about the region of Nepal you are travelling to and the risk of getting malaria or dengue in that place. For e.g., there is zero risk for malaria in kathmandu and the surrounding hills and mountains but the risk of infection is higher if you are travelling to any parts of the Terai region.
The risk of infection also depends on different factors such as the time of the year you are travelling, the duration of your stay, the activities you are planning to do, and the place you will be staying in.
The longer your stay, the higher the risk of infection is, so if you are going for a longer stay it’s best to be extra careful about preventive measures.
2. Stay in well screened and protected areas at night
The higher temperature in the Terai region might make you want to to sleep outside in the open, but doing so puts you at a higher risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes. The risk of getting infection is also very high during the night.
Always make sure that you are sleeping in well-screened areas at night by using a mosquito net. If you are sleeping in a tent, make sure that there are no holes anywhere. If you are sleeping in a house, make sure to keep the doors and windows of your house closed all the time.
It’s also a good idea to avoid standing water, lakes, and waste dumps because these breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
3. Use mosquito repellent before heading out
During your travel to Nepal, you might want to visit areas lush with greenery. However keep in mind that such forests are also rife with mosquitoes as they prefer this type of environment.
Before heading out make sure to apply mosquito repellent cream or lotion on parts of your body which aren’t covered.
Another thing you should always remember is that repellent should be put on after other lotions like sunscreen or moisturizing creams. If you apply these creams and lotions on top of the mosquito repellent, then the repellent will be covered with thick layers of other creams and will become ineffective.
4. Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved outfits while going out
Mosquitoes find it easier to inject the virus through tight outfits such as jeans or sleeveless dresses. Instead opt for long, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and cover up as much of your body as possible. Go for long pants tucked into socks leaving very little space for mosquitoes to bite through.
5. Treat clothes with repellents like permethrin
Clothes treated with repellents like permethrin can also play a significant role in preventing mosquito bites. Consider permethrin treated clothing and camping gear (for example, boots, pants, socks, and tents).Such clothing containing permethrin can be purchased or self-application of permethrin can be done before heading out.
But be careful while applying these repellents and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Do NOT ever use permethrin directly on your skin.
6. Use natural repellents to get 24 hour protection
If you are worried that chemicals in the repellents may have a negative effect on your skin, then you can also go for natural repellents such as neem oil and lavender oil.
Neem oil can be mixed with coconut oil and applied all over the body to prevent insect bites. Lavender oil can be mixed with citronella and eucalyptus oils and then sprayed to repel mosquitoes. They contain fragrance and oil that can repel mosquitoes.
These essential oils also have analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities. This means that in addition to preventing mosquito bites, it can calm and soothe the skin.
7. Get antimalarial medication (if necessary)
Depending on the overall malaria risk at your destination, it might be necessary to take antimalarial medication.
You might need to practise malaria prophylaxis, either on a daily or a weekly basis. It’s better to consult a travel clinic, healthcare provider or an online health service before your departure. Healthcare providers and medical institutions like Swacon are fully equipped with antimalarial and other medications that can prevent infections.
Be smart enough to take preventive measures rather than curative measures.
8. Consult the doctor immediately if you experience flu like symptoms
If you experience any flu-like symptoms within six months after your return, always inform the doctor about your journey and the areas you have been to. Although an infection like malaria usually causes symptoms within one or two weeks, it is possible for the symptoms to show up later.
A complete health solution for travellers
Malaria and dengue can be fatal if not treated properly but using the proper preventive measures will greatly decrease the chance of contracting either disease. In case you fall sick, it’s highly recommended that you go for treatment immediately.
If you are not feeling well after your travel you can also visit us at Swacon Hospital to get treated for malaria, dengue, or any other illnesses. We also provide a large number of other travel medicine options including immunizations, rescue medicine, mountain medicine, and others.
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