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How to protect yourself

Insects that bite, such as ticks and mosquitoes, can transmit certain diseases. Depending on where you are travelling, mosquitoes can transmit:

Personal Preventative Measures

  • Wear light-coloured protective clothing. Dark clothing attracts more insects than light clothing
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Use insect repellent that contains DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) or icaridin. When purchasing insect repellent, check the quantity of DEET or icaridin it contains. The protection provided by products that contain 20% icaridine is equivalent to products containing from 28 to 30% DEET.
  • Topical insect repellents that contain p-menthane-3,8-diol (oil of lemon eucalyptus) and that are licensed for sale in Canada can be considered as an alternative
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Apply a small quantity of insect repellent only on the exposed parts of your body
  • You can purchase pesticide-treated clothing
  • Spray your clothing and headgear with insect repellent (DEET), only if it is made with natural fibres such as cotton as DEET may damage certain synthetic materials
  • Choose cream, gel, or liquid insect repellents
  • If you are using a spray, make sure to do so in a well-ventilated area
  • Do not spray insect repellent over your face
  • Wash your hands after using insect repellent to prevent contact with the eyes or mouth
  • Do not apply any insect repellent on children’s hands
  • Wash any skin that has been in contact with insect repellent with soap and water as soon as protection is no longer required
  • If using sunscreen, first apply the sunscreen, then 20 minutes before applying insect repellent
  • Depending on the destination, take preventive medications or vaccines as prescribed

Preventative measures where you are staying

  • Ideally, choose air-conditioned accommodations with sealed windows. If unavailable, your room needs to have window and door screens
  • Purchase bed-netting before you leave home, preferably containing an insecticide like permethrin
  • Make sure the netting does not have any holes in it
  • Tuck the mosquito netting under the mattress while making sure it does not touch you
  • Bring insecticide-impregnated clothing (permethrin)

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the following measures are not effective and are not recommended:

  • Electronic (ultrasonic) devices
  • Wristbands, neckbands and ankle bands that contain repellents
  • Electrocuting devices (“bug zappers”)
  • Odour-baited mosquito traps
  • Orally administered vitamin B1
  • Skin moisturizers that do not contain an approved active repellent

When you return home

If you took antimalarials, you need to continue taking them as prescribed. Some types of antimalarials need to be taken for several days or weeks after you return home.

You need to see a Doctor if:

  • You experience flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, headaches, muscle pain) up to three months following your return home
  • You were treated or hospitalized abroad for any type of health problem
  • During the trip, there was a diagnosis of malaria where you were travelling or someone was suspected of having malaria


Even if you are taking animalarial drugs, personal protective measures are still recommended.

No medication is 100% effective.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada (phac-aspc.gc.ca)
Source: who.int
Source: CDC
Source: Canadian Paediatric Society
Source: Guide d’intervention santé-voyage
Source: Government of Canada: travel.gc.ca

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters.