Most people worry only about what clothes to take when packing for a vacation. I am worrying about protecting us from dengue fever.
This was just a passing thought for my upcoming trip to Easter Island where they had a breakout of a “mild” strain of dengue fever a few years ago. I didn’t really thing it was something I should spend too much time worrying about since it hasn’t been a recent problem.
But then I read a travel blogger’s post that describes how horrible an experience it is. This guy had traveled all over South America including the Amazon and had the extreme misfortune of contracting not just dengue fever but malaria AT THE SAME TIME!
When I commented on his post telling him that he convinced me not only to pack bug repellent, but to USE it, I receive a comment back for someone else suggesting I look into natural repellents. My reply that I will look into it unleashes the dengue survivors who advise me to buy nothing less than something with the evil ingredient DEET.
This is how I ended up in the aisle of Rite-Aid pondering what kind of chemicals I am willing to put directly on my skin to prevent mosquitos from injecting me with this delusion-inducing fever. And of course there is the added complication of what’s available in a size of 3 ounces or less to satisfy the TSA.
I narrow my choices down to a “natural” spray without DEET and wipes with DEET.
But the horrific warnings on the DEET box freak me out. They give the usual warnings about keeping it from getting near my eyes and what to do if I accidentally swallow it.
Planning on being on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the closest real hospital a four-hour flight away, I particularly like this warning, “If you suspect a reaction to this product, discontinue use, wash treated skin and call your local poison control center.”
My favorite though is: “Do not use under clothing. Will not damage cotton, wool or nylon. DO NOT APPLY ON OR NEAR acetate, rayon, spandex, or other synthetics (other than nylon), furniture, plastics, leather, watch crystals and painted or varnished surfaces including automobiles.” Yikes!
There goes the cute shirt I just bought – it’s made in China out of something called viscose, pretty much a more chemical sounding name for rayon. I wonder if the DEET will disintegrate the fabric on contact or just melt it into my skin. And what will happen to my bathing suit?
In the end I ask the patriarchal pharmacist what he would use. Hands down, no contest, he says he would go for the DEET. It’s proven effective, so DEET it is. There’s a 3-ounce spray bottle or the wipes. I decide that the wipes will be easier to pack.
I’m hoping that once we land, I will find that they are unnecessary because between the sunscreen and the bug repellent, I’m going to be a walking chemical farm. I might just repel myself.