The Dangers of and Protection from Infectious Disease Carrying Insects

Disease Carrying Insects

Insects borne diseases can be deadly and now diseases once thought isolated to certain parts of the world are showing up in the United States. Persons infected with diseases once thought to be confined to a certain region of the world can now carry the diseases to the four corners of the world. Mosquitoes transmit diseases by biting an infected person, and then transmit the disease by biting another person (CDC, 2014).

Deadly insect transmitted diseases are no longer confined to remote areas of the world. Infected people can travel anywhere in the world today and spread the disease by being bitten by a mosquito. The mosquito bites a person with the disease and then passes the disease on by biting another person, so the cycle essentially never ends.

Infectious disease experts say conditions are ripe for mosquito borne illness to explode in large swaths of the USA where two mosquito species known to spread certain diseases are in abundance, in particular mosquitoes that can carry chikungunya, which was once thought to be only in the Caribbean. Deaths from the disease are rare, but the pain can be severe and debilitating.

The disease has been reported in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia (USA Today, 2014).

(N, N-diethyl-M-toluamide [DEET] Insect Repellent

The concentration of DEET determines how long it works to protect against biting insects in particular mosquitoes. Low concentrations of the active ingredient such as those used for children may only work for a few hours whereas at 30 percent, for example, you can expect protection for a number of hours.

DEET is considered one of the most effective insect repellents on the market today. DEET was developed by the United States Army during the 1940’s following the problems soldiers encountered in jungle warfare during World War II. It was introduced for civilian use in 1957.

According to experts, there is no real protection enhancement from 50 percent concentration up to 100 percent. At between 50 and 100 percent you can expect up to 12 hours of protection. At 20-34 percent concentration, expect 3-6 hours of protection.

The CDC recommends between 30 and 50 percent concentration as the most effective concentration to help control the spread of infectious diseases by insects (CDC, 2014).

DEET should be a staple in all emergency bags, survival kits and home emergency kits because insects borne disease are prevalent in virtually all parts of the country today and the world.

Insect Netting

Use netting to help control insects as well. Because DEET can be washed off or wear off additional protection may be needed at night and this is especially important for children because parents sometimes fear using DEET on their children but they must be protected nonetheless. Netting along with topical repellents can dramatically reduce the risk of contracting insect borne diseases such as malaria.

Permethrin as an Insect Repellent/Insecticide For Clothing and Gear

The repellent is in the pyrethroid chemical family. Permethrin can be purchased specifically for application to clothing, gear and certain other equipment to repel and kill insects. Permethrin is an insecticide and repellent. Apply the repellent to all outer clothing, shoes, and field gear and sleeping gear as well.

Hang the clothes in a well-ventilated area and then apply, do not apply to clothing you are currently wearing. Follow label directions carefully.

Permethrin is toxic to cats and fish.

Permethrin is poorly absorbed by the skin and is often times used, in different concentrations, as a topical medication to treat scabies, but is considered pharmaceutical grade when used medically, which is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Permethrin is used in public health mosquito abatement programs and on a variety of food and feed crops and on livestock to control insects.

If you purchase the repellent as a general use pesticide/insect repellent for clothing treatment read the directions carefully and never apply to the skin directly. Permethrin will remain on clothing even after repeated washings. It should not be applied directly to the skin or inner clothing, underwear and tee shirts for example.

Mosquito Dunks®

The dunks are a brand name for a mosquito control product that contains BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis serovar israelensis). Bti is a group of bacteria used as a biological control agent for larvae stages of certain insects.

Bti produces a toxin, which is effective at killing the larvae of mosquitoes, fungus gnats, and black flies. Bti is routinely used to control fungus gnats that can cause edible crop damage. The gnat larva is present in the soil and a liquid solution is used to drench the soil for eradication.

The dunks typically come in a donut shape that is placed whole in standing water, or even moving water that cannot otherwise be removed such as watering tanks for livestock, drainage ditches, birdbaths, ponds and so forth.

The dunks do nothing to control adult mosquito, however. The bacteria can only prevent the larvae from hatching by destroying it. BTI is considered an organic bacterium.

Mosquitoes of course breed in water, and any standing water in a camp setting or around the home will be a hazard to humans due to the rabid breeding of mosquitoes.

It is important during the summer months and all year around in some parts of the country and world that you are pro-active in preventing insect bites to help prevent contracting an infectious disease.

CDC. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from

USA Today. (2014, June 13). Retrieved 2014, from