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While rainy season is officially over, getting dengue fever in Thailand is still a potential risk. This year alone more than 42,000 people have been infected by the virus and has resulted in more than 35 deaths in Thailand alone.
The dengue fever virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can lead to vomiting, high fever, headaches, fatigue, and several other nasty symptoms which can last for several weeks and sometimes even lead to death.
In today’s article, you will learn:
- Why Thailand mosquitoes are attracted to certain people
- Why pregnant women are at greater risk to mosquito bites
- Which parts of the body they bite the most and why
- Why you should never use DEET spray
- How to make a homemade mosquito trap in under 1 minute.
1. Why Thailand mosquitoes love to bite you
If you’ve spent any amount of time in a tropical country you’ll know that mosquitoes like certain people more than others.
As human beings, our body produces a number of scents that draws mosquitoes towards us, they include:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) – Each time you exhale, you’re reveal your whereabouts to Thai mosquitoes. With every outward breath, along with CO2 our body releases lactic acid, octenol and other fatty acids which when combined in the right amounts are a mosquitoes’ favorite cocktail.
Unfortunately, you cannot mask your scent as it’s completely dependent on genetics, although some sources claim that eating garlic may have a small impact.
Also the bigger you’re, the more CO2 you release and it’s why adults are more likely to be bitten than children.
Blood type – Mosquitoes harvest our blood and they seem to have a preference. One study found that mosquitoes are twice as likely to land on people who have the blood Type O than people with Type A. Once again, this is another genetic feature which cannot be modified.
Lactic acid – if you’re the active type and love exercise or perspire more than others in Bangkok’s sweltering heat, the sweat your body is made partly from lactic acid which is a cue for mosquitoes to attack.
Your body produces more moisture and body heat after exercise and is why you’ll sometimes see swarms flying around you.
To reduce your chances of being bitten, you could stop working out all together (which we don’t suggest), what we do suggest is taking advantage of the showers at your local gym to get rid of the lactic acid build up on your skin, or to dry yourself throughly of any sweat before you go outside.
Don’t forget to change your sweaty t-shirt too.
Secretor status – Did you know that certain people secrete chemicals through their skin depending on their biological makeup? You can either be a secretor or a non-secretor, with over 80% of the entire population being secretors.
Sadly, won’t be able to know your status without going for a secretor/non-secretor test.
Finally, your body’s level of moisture, temperature, color of your skin and clothing (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors) all impact how juicy of a meal you look like to them. Regardless of how perfect your nutritional intake is, getting bitten by mosquitoes in Thailand is mostly down to genetics.
So now you know a little about how Thailand mosquitoes operate, here’s a few tips for locals and expats to minimize their exposure to Dengue fever and malaria in Thailand.
2. Pregnant women are more likely to get bitten
Studies have shown that pregnant women are twice as more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than anybody else.
Why? Pregnant women exhale 20% more CO2 than average and often have a warmer body temperature.
If you’re pregnant in Thailand, be a little more aware of your surroundings during pregnancy, you’ll be a magnet for Thailand’s mosquitoes. Consider placing plants in your office or home to reduce the CO2 content in your apartment, and keep your body covered as much as possible during pregnancy.
3. Thailand mosquitoes love hands and feet
There are 459 mosquito species in Thailand, but it’s the Aedine species that spreads the dengue fever virus.
And you know what they love? Feet.
Studies have revealed that Thailand mosquitoes love the smell of stinky feet. The bacteria and sweat build in between your toes is a playground for the critters. Our hands and feet are typically warmer than other parts of our body, combed with the sweat and moisture it produces it’s why you get bitten on your hands and feet first.
The next time you hit the streets of Bangkok, swap your flip flops for shoes and socks.
Mosquitoes are most likely to strike at dusk and dawn and are attracted to water. Keep your balconies dry and if you’re eating outside, be wary of your surroundings and that you’re not too close to an open drain or puddle of water.
Place more plants in your office and bedroom to balance the oxygen levels and sleep with a fan aimed at your body. Mosquitoes hate the cold and cannot fly in strong winds.
4. Why you should avoid spraying DEET
DEET has been the weapon of choice for decades to keep Thai mosquitoes at bay. However, DEET can be absorbed by the skin and cause harm the body. Ronnie Cummins, the national director of the Organic Consumer Association Said:
“It’s a scary chemical, and it’s definitely to be used only as a last resort, if at all, to protect yourself from insect bites”
5. Homemade Mosquito traps
We’re not big fans of any chemical or non-natural substances at Paleo Robbie and suggest you use natural solutions when possible. This quick video below shows how you can make your own mosquito trap using warm water, sugar and yeast:
Alternatively, if you get any sort of satisfaction from keeping mosquitoes out of your home or office, we highly recommend you buy an electric bat zapper which is a much safer option to having a mosquito free living space (just avoid zapping yourself).
It also makes you look less crazy when running around you apartment trying to catch mosquitoes.
In short, if you have the right blood type, skin color and your body is a secretor – then Thailand’s mosquitoes are going to hunt you.
But by knowing how they think, what they are attracted to and the best way to protect yourself will minimize your chances of getting dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and malaria in Thailand from mosquito bites.
Getting malaria in Thailand is highly unlikely if you stick to the biggest cites like Bangkok, Pattaya and Chaing Mai. If you feel you have any symptoms that relate to dengue fever or malaria, you should get in touch with your local doctor immediately.
Found this article useful? You may also like our 5 Thai foods you think are healthy but actually aren’t or top 10 Diet foods that make you fat instead of thin. If you have a friend who is often complaining about mosquito bites in Thailand, hit the share button below to help us raise awareness.
1. National Library of Medicine, Univeristy of Kassala (2004). Attractiveness of pregnant women to the malaria vector.
2. Dr. Steve Lindsay PhD, The Lancet (2000). Effect of pregnancy on exposure to malaria mosquitoes.