When traveling or enjoying outdoor activities such as camping, there is the risk of being exposed to mosquito bites and the potential diseases that they carry. Wearing clothes that cover your entire body and applying insect repellent will decrease the risk of being stung, but the safest, simplest and most effective way to control mosquito bites is to use a mosquito netting canopy.
When purchasing a mosquito netting canopy, it is important to be well-informed. Mosquito netting can be made out of two types of material, polyester and cotton. Polyester is a good choice as it is lightweight and longer lasting than cotton. Cotton netting can be more comfortable, but it is less durable. Cotton is not water-resistant and can stretch if it gets wet; it also becomes heavier and tiresome to carry. However, for a long stay in a tropical area, cotton netting would be preferred due to its comfort level. Mosquito netting canopies, whether made of polyester or cotton, come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and thickness of thread.
To increase the efficiency of a mosquito netting canopy, and therefore maximize your protection against insect bites, it is recommended that the net be sprayed with a top-quality insecticide, such as permethrin. The effectiveness of a pre-treated canopy can last up to one year. It is possible to spray it yourself with an insecticide from the local hardware store, but a pre-treated canopy is always a safer choice. The standard amount of insecticide used is usually 350-500 milligrams per squared meter. The main advantage of a mosquito netting canopy sprayed with insect repellent is that if the netting becomes torn or damaged during travel, the repellent still offers some protection against pesky insects.
Are Mosquito Nets the Safest Alternative?
According to studies done by Clive Shiff, a prominent malaria expert at the John Hopkins School of Health, a mosquito netting canopy can play a major part in keeping travelers and campers safe from mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria. Shiff was a major player in an experiment that provided mosquito netting to 20,000 families with children in Tanzania. All the participating children received anti-malarial drugs. The control group slept without any netting canopy protection, and the treatment group slept with a net canopy. At the end of the 6-month study, the results indicated that the primary symptom of malaria, which is anemia, was 50% less common in the treatment group than in the control group.
Other numerous field trials carried out in Kenya, Gambia, and Ghana showed that child deaths from malaria could be reduced considerably if a mosquito netting canopy was used during sleep and resting hours.
Unicef has put a plan into effect that will help provide mosquito netting canopies and indoor residual spraying to people living in malaria-prone areas. It is their hope that the number of cases of malaria infections will be reduced by 50% by the year 2010.