If you’re going to be in an area where malaria is prevalent, you should take all measures you can to avoid contracting this disease. Repellents are excellent choices during the day and when you’re out and about, but at night, when you’re sleeping, a mosquito net is your best choice. There’s simply no other protection that’s as inexpensive and effective. If you’re traveling in a risky area, always carry your mosquito net with you.
Malaria is spread when a mosquito bites a person who is infected, and then bites a person who isn’t infected and passes along the organism that causes malaria. Not only can mosquito nets help prevent you from getting bit, if a mosquito comes in contact with a net that has been treated with an insecticide – usually Permethrin – the mosquito will die, which lessens the local mosquito population as well. However, the insecticide protection will eventually wear away and should be reapplied about every six months. The insecticide works so well that even if your net tears, it can still help protect you.
The following are some things to consider when you’re purchasing or using a mosquito net. First, you should consider the size of the mesh. It should be large enough for good air circulation, but small enough to keep out mosquitoes. The most common and recommended mesh size is 1.2 mm by 1.2 mm – about 120 to 200 mesh squares per square inch of net. While this will keep malaria-causing mosquitoes away, it won’t protect you against sand flies, another annoying pest that can cause disease in humans. If you want a net that will protect you against mosquitoes and sand flies, choose a smaller mesh size – about 0.6 mm by 0.6 mm.
The material that your net should be made of will depend on the type of traveling you do. If you’ll be packing up and traveling a lot, choose a long-lasting material such as polyester. These nets pack up easily and don’t weigh very much – an important consideration when you’re carrying your net around with you. If you’ll be staying primarily in one spot, you may consider choosing a cotton net. These nets weigh more, but are more comfortable to sleep under because the natural fibers “breathe.” You can even dampen these nets with water for evaporative cooling – just make sure that the net is thoroughly dry before you pack it up!
Nets are also available in various sizes. Choose one that’s large enough to completely cover you as you sleep, without touching your skin. If the net touches your skin, so can a mosquito that lands on the net. Remember, you can contract malaria from a single bite. You can use blankets or pillows around the edges of the net to prevent it from touching your body and you should tuck the net under your mattress to prevent mosquitoes from being able to reach you. The top of the net will attach above the bed with a hook, string or screw. Some nets have frames to hold them in place while others will rely more on your ingenuity. A net shaped much like your bed – typically rectangular – will probably work best for you.