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Animal and Insect Bites
Animal and Insect Bites
Preventing Insect Bites
Fortunately, the risk of contracting insect-transmitted diseases is very low in most major resort areas. Nevertheless, flare-ups can occur anywhere in Mexico’s high-risk areas, and it is always best to be cautious and be prepared. The best way is to avoid areas and seasons with the greatest insect and disease activity. Most diseases that are transmitted by insects occur in rural Mexico, where sanitation is poorly controlled. If you cannot alter your travel plans, then avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when many mosquitoes are most active.
If your activities do put you at risk, protect yourself with insect repellents and protective clothing. Treat exposed skin with products that contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). DEET does not kill insects, but it inhibits their ability to detect your presence. Adults should use 30 to 35 percent formulations. DEET should not be used on children under the age of two, and there is conflicting information regarding the safety of DEET for children between the ages of 2 and 12. In the past, the recommendation was that children in this age group should not use formulations with more than 10 percent DEET. However, recent studies have demonstrated safety with DEET concentrations up to 30 percent. Plant and organic insect repellents provide protection over a limited duration. For precautions and directions, always read the package insert before use.
Treat your clothing, tents, mosquito nets, and other gear with a permethrin-based repellent such as Permanone or Repel. These repellents remain active for two weeks or longer and stay on clothing through several wash cycles, eliminating the need to reapply them. For more information on use and safety, see the individual package inserts.
If you ever suspect you are having an adverse reaction to an insect repellent, immediately wash the affected skin with soap and water. Seek medical attention if the condition does not resolve quickly.
For maximum protection wear long-sleeved shirts, full-length pants, and hats whenever possible. Tuck your pants into your boots and avoid wearing sandals. If you are staying in non-air-conditioned, poorly screened lodging in high-risk areas, we recommend that you sleep under bed netting. Also, spray the room with a pyrethroid ester-based insect repellent such as Repel for additional protection.
Preventing Tick Bites
If you are going to venture into some of Mexico’s more tropical or forested regions, be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants. Avoid sandals. Instead, wear boots and tuck your pant legs into your boots. Always stay on designated hiking paths and avoid marshes and high grass. Apply permethrin-containing insect repellent to the outside of your clothing for added protection. Remember to inspect yourself and your children thoroughly after a forest venture or hike into rural Mexico. Some ticks are no larger than a small pinhead, and may be hard to see. It is often easier to see them on white clothing.
If you find an embedded tick, do not burn it off or use chemicals or petroleum jelly to induce the tick to leave the skin. Instead, remove it with tweezers by grasping the tick’s head as close as possible to the skin. Use gentle traction to coax the tick out, taking care not to squeeze or damage the body of the tick. After you’ve removed it, wash the tweezers, your hands, and the skin around the tick bite with disinfectant. Save the tick in a jar of alcohol for further identification, if needed.
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