People see mosquitoes as a nuisance, but the reality is that they can also be dangerous because they are responsible for a long list of infectious diseases. These vary from complaints similar to the flu up to life long or life threatening conditions.
Through the years we have learned that is impossible to fight mosquitoes just by using insecticides. Indiscriminate use of insecticides creates resistance in the mosquito population, i.e. fewer mosquitoes are killed by the fumigation. Secondly, the use of insecticides will not only attack mosquitoes, but will eliminate insects vital to our ecosystem such as bees, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles and more.
For these reasons prevention is a much more valuable weapon against mosquitoes. We have to avoid breeding them and we have to avoid at all costs that they bite us. This document focusses on how to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Why do mosquitoes bite us
The female mosquito uses our blood to produce her eggs. The mosquito needs us for their reproduction
What happens when you are bitten
The mosquito infected with a virus (dengue, chikungunya or zika) will transmit this virus to you after which you will become ill. Once you have the disease and you are bitten, the mosquito will take the virus and will pass it on to the next person and henceforth spread the disease.
Avoid being bitten even if you have had dengue or chikungunya! If the mosquito cannot get to you it cannot make you ill. There are many different things one can do to prevent the mosquito to get close to us.
Use clothing that covers all parts of your body when the mosquito is more active (at dawn and dusk). Use long sleeves and pants. Use light colored clothing since the mosquito is more attracted to dark colors.
The use of repellents is one of the most effective ways to protect your family against mosquitoes. Use it on all exposed parts of the body. If you are using sun protection, apply this first and secondly the repellent.
Important: Choose a repellent containing the active ingredient: DEET. Products containing: Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535are also effective. Many brands and forms are available containing one of mentioned active ingredients. Read the packaging to inform yourself about what you are buying.
The percent of the active ingredient indicates the length of protection. For instance a product containing 20% to 25% DEET will protect you for 6 to 8 hours. It is not necessary to buy a product with a higher concentration since it will not protect you better only slightly longer. Better choose one that fits your lifestyle, you can always reapply if you feel the repellent becomes less effective.
Repellents are available in all supermarket and drugstores.
Precautions with repellents
Use a repellent as indicated on the label. When using repellent, do not spray directly on your face spray some in your hands and apply to your face. Do not use repellent close to the eyes and mouth.
Spray the repellent and spread to every uncovered part of your body. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling repellents.
Important: Remember the ones that cannot protect themselves due to some disability. Help them with the use of repellents or use mosquito netting to protect them against mosquito bites.
Babies and children
Don’t let children play with the repellent. Do not spray directly on your child, spray some in your hands and spread it on the child. Because children will put their hands in their mouths and eyes, do not use repellent on their hands.
Repellents (containing DEET, Picaridin or IR3535) can be used once the baby is older than 2 months. Repellents containing Oil of lemon eucalyptus can be used only after the child is 3 years of age.
During pregnancy any disease can be a problem for the mother or the child. This is also true for diseases acquired from mosquito bites. The pregnant women must make every effort not to be bitten by mosquitoes. Based on available scientific information, the recommended repellents in this document are safe for use during pregnancy. No extra precautions are indicated for the use of repellents during pregnancy.
Keep the mosquito outside
Sleeping under mosquito netting is an effective way to maintain mosquitoes separated from humans. Mosquito netting is especially helpful for baby’s younger than 2 months on whom repellents can not yet be used. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is most aggressive at dawn and dusk, nevertheless once it is in your house it will keep being active night and day. To keep them out, keep windows and doors closed till after the peak activity hours. The use of screens on doors and windows, although a large investment, is the most effective way to keep mosquitoes away from your loved ones.
It is important to follow all these recommendations, but more important is to make sure you are not breeding mosquitoes in and around your house.
For information regarding vector borne diseases please contact the Epidemiology & Research Unit of Public Health Curaçao at (+5999) 462 2040 extensions 850 or 851.
For complaints and prevention of mosquitoes please contact the Hygiene Department of Public Health Curaçao at (+5999) 462 2040 extensions 867 or 858.
For emergency please call: 0800-0888 / 9345