Dangerous mosquitoes: How to protect yourself

Whether malaria or Zika virus: dangerous mosquitoes transmit serious diseases. Not only in faraway countries, but also in the middle of Europe. Recently, for example, entomologists have warned that the Asian tiger mosquito could spread to Central Europe. Among other things, it transmits dengue fever, which can lead to death. I have compiled an overview and concrete protective measures before and after the stabbing for you here.

Not just a tropical problem: dangerous mosquitoes

In this country, we know them mainly as annoying but harmless pests that want to spoil a cozy summer evening on the terrace or by the lake. But especially for travel fans it is worth to take a second look at the mosquito. Mosquitoes are serious spreaders of various diseases. Every year more than one million people worldwide die from diseases transmitted by dangerous mosquitoes. It is high time to make a mosquito out of an elephant, at least when planning your trip, and to prepare accordingly. Even if you don't plan to circumnavigate the rainforest but stay in Central Europe.

Are mosquitoes really so dangerous?

Even if one or the other horror vision can already be found in the press, in which dangerous mosquitoes cause unimagined epidemics in Germany: The actual risk posed by mosquitoes still depends heavily on the region in which you are located. Mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever are mainly found in South and Central America, Central Africa and parts of Asia.

Recently in the headlines and still on the rise is the Zika virus. It is also transmitted by mosquitoes and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. In case of infection there is a risk of malformations of the child in the womb. Especially when planning to travel to the epidemic centers of South America or Southeast Asia, pregnant women should seriously consider whether a trip there is really necessary.

If you don't want to be deterred by the danger, you should at least thoroughly read up on the Zika virus and the current state of its spread beforehand. As a first clue, here is more information about the Zika virus at a glance. So: Are mosquitoes really so dangerous?? – Unfortunately yes, if you like to travel the world.

How safe is Balkonia? Dangerous mosquitoes in Germany

So far, there are only sporadic cases of illness from mosquito bites in Central Europe. Mostly through introduced mosquitoes or the unnoticed infection during a stay in epidemic areas. The mosquito species native to Germany and large parts of Europe carry only a very low disease potential.

So everything in the best order? In principle yes. However, some entomologists have recently warned against the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito in Central Europe. This mosquito species can transmit dengue fever, among other diseases. This is a widespread disease, especially in the tropics, and in the worst case fatal, with initially flu-like symptoms. They have also been sighted in Germany in various places.

However, the tiger mosquito has not yet been able to make itself comfortable in the northern part of Europe. So far, no case is known in which a specimen of the Asian tiger mosquito or its eggs survived the winter in Germany. In the much warmer climes of the Mediterranean, however, they nest willy-nilly slowly permanently. It remains to be seen whether the Asian tiger mosquito will survive a German winter in the near future. This is being critically observed by several research groups and the Federal Environment Agency, among others.

How to protect yourself from dangerous mosquitoes?

Basically, there are two simple-sounding ways to minimize the risk of serious illness from mosquito bites: before the bite and after the bite.

Before the sting. Prevention is the best medicine against mosquito-borne diseases. These are the most proven methods of preventing a mosquito bite from occurring in the first place:

Put mosquito nets on the bed, windows and doors

Use mosquito repellent sprays

Wear long-sleeved clothing if possible, offer little "attack surface

Avoid stagnant water (breeding grounds), shorten stay outdoors

If the destination has already been determined and the region in question is known to be a risk area for certain diseases, vaccination may also be an option. Of course, only if a suitable, low-risk vaccine is available at all. For example, travelers to the tropics can now be vaccinated against yellow fever, but there is still no reliable vaccine against dengue fever.

After the bite. Despite the best precautions, there is no hundred percent protection against dangerous mosquitoes. Moreover, not every bite is a reason for panic, because not every single mosquito specimen automatically carries pathogens. Also, not every bite of an infected mosquito necessarily brings "enough" pathogens into the human body to trigger the disease. In addition, there are a few options to reduce the dangers even after the fact:

Have "antidote" with you. For some diseases – for example malaria – there are so-called stand-by medicines, which can be carried and taken immediately in case of infection, when the first symptoms appear.

Self-observation. After the mosquito bite, it's important to keep a close eye on your own physical condition. The onset of fever or cold symptoms are absolute warning signs that should be taken seriously, even if the trip to the tropics has been a while ago. Malaria, for example, can still break out several weeks after infection. So if you feel generally unwell or sick, consult a doctor immediately.

Special information about your destination

You are looking for specific information about your particular destination? The German Foreign Office maintains fact sheets for almost all countries worldwide, in which all important tips, health information and recommendations for action are clearly arranged. Click here to go directly to the alphabetical country overview of the German Foreign Office.