Will You Catch Malaria on Holiday in Thailand?
The big question is when traveling to Thailand do you need to take Malaria tablets? And for the vast majority of visitors, the answer is no you don’t. But don’t start thinking that must surely mean they’re no mosquitoes right? Because you would be widely mistaken, Thailand is in the tropics and is full of mosquitoes, sometimes there is no escaping these pesky biting insects and you will probably at some point get bitten. But apart from a few remote areas where tourists hardly visit the chance of catching malaria is very low.
The main areas of the country where visitors are at risk of catching malaria are remote areas bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. If you do happen to find yourself in these areas and get bitten, don’t panic as not all mosquitoes carry malaria, only certain types carry the disease. But you should always try and take steps to prevent getting bitten as these can be a better option than buying expensive anti-malarial tablets which can be ineffective and carry some nasty side effects depending on the person.
Your doctor may tell you that you need to take Malarone – but are they just saying that because it’s an expensive medication? In fact the Thai medical authorities are opposed to any visitors taking ant-malarial medications as that leads to mosquitoes growing resistant to the drugs in areas where they are really required. Malarone cant be bought or prescribed to the public in Thailand.
Preventing Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes tend to be more active early in the morning before sunrise and after the sunsets in the evening. Which can be a problem for anyone going out wearing aftershave or perfume as mosquitoes are particularly attracted to these scents. It’s also a good idea to keep away from still water and humid, airless environments as mosquitoes love these conditions and thrive in it.
Some ways to prevent or minimise getting bitten is to wear long trousers and long sleeve tops during the high-risk times. There is also some evidence that mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing so try and wear something light coloured. Also if your Hotel has it turn on the air conditioning as the cooler temperatures help keep away mosquitoes.
The best and most successful way to prevent yourself from getting mosquito bites is to get yourself some DEET. Depending on what type you get it can be strong stuff and you’ve got to be careful with it as it can bleach your clothes. DEET is available to buy in any country but it can be expensive, some visitors wait until they arrive in Thailand to buy it where every pharmacy, 7-eleven and supermarket sell it, usually cheaper than what you can get back home.
Another couple options you can use to prevent mosquito bites is to buy mosquito repellent plug in adapters. You basically plug them into the socket and every once in a while it lets off a spray releasing the repellent. Another option is a mosquito net, but unless you are planning to sleep outside or in beach huts where most come provided anyway it’s not really necessary.
Treating Mosquito Bites
If you are unlucky and do happen to get bitten by a mosquito which you probably will then just like most insect bites you will be very tempted to itch and scratch the infected area. Even though a good itch feels good it can actually make the bite worse, as you itch it releases histamine can make the bite appear redder and blotchy. The majority of bites are minor irritations but if you do happen to suffer bruising or swelling you should seek medical advice asap.
When traveling to Thailand it’s advisable to carry a tube of hydrocortisone in your first aid kit, applying this will help take away the itching and redness. Another option is to use Tiger balm which is very effective for insect bites and can be found anywhere in Thailand, it’s actually great for a lot of things so worth getting when you are in Thailand.
Other Diseases Mosquitoes Can Carry
Two other known diseases that mosquitoes carry and have known to be an issue in certain areas in Thailand are Dengue Fever and Japanese Encephalitis. Both of these diseases can be caught in Thailand but like malaria, it’s only found in remote rural areas. Dengue fever seems to be more prevalent during the rainy season, but most guest houses and hotels take certain measures to protect guests and even carry out anti-mosquito spraying.