Much of the world is lucky enough to be able to forget that mosquitoes can make you ill.
Mosquitoes can still cause health problems in some countries, so it’s important to be well-informed before you travel.
Mosquito-delivered illnesses hit the headlines again when Brazil was greatly affected by the zika virus as the country prepared for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and suddenly it seemed that everyone was worried about what a mosquito bite just might do.
Cuba has not been greatly affected by the zika virus, and hopefully this will not change thanks to the careful measures that much of the world is also taking.
There have been a small number of isolated cases of zika in Cuba though.
There are a few other mosquito-delivered illnesses that are more of an issue in Cuba, but it’s easy enough to take precautions.
Just to stress the point: It’s really not a huge concern, but is more something you need to be aware of.
So what do you need to know about mosquitoes in Cuba?
The Mosquito Maternity Hospital
Mosquitoes in Cuba (much like mosquitoes in any subtropical part of the world) do most of their breeding in the rainy season.
This is because to a mosquito, after making sweet insect love, there is no better place to give birth than in a puddle.
It needs to be a puddle because running water (a river or stream) would wash the mosquito eggs away, and a large body of water allows the eggs to be eaten by tiny fish.
So while any puddle has the potential to be a mosquito maternity hospital, the problem can be worse in the tropics and subtropics.
Mosquitoes adore heat and humidity, and since the rainy season gives them more puddles than they know what to do with, this is why the rainy season has the highest mosquito population.
In Cuba, the rainy season runs from April to November.
But this does not mean that you should avoid the island nation during these months.
The Two Main Annoyances
There are two primary diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes in Cuba.
These are chikungunya and dengue.
They are both referred to as fevers, but this is partially because an infection seems like a particularly bad fever in the first few days.
If you happen to be in Cuba or another subtropical region and develop a fever, this of course does not mean that you have been exposed to chikungunya or dengue.
If the fever persists and develops into joint pain, then you should see a doctor.
There are no vaccines available for either of these mosquito-delivered illnesses, although a vaccine against dengue fever is expected to become available in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines.
There is some debate about how effective this vaccine will be, which is why it has not been approved in most countries.
While medicine cannot yet prevent the spread of these illnesses, they can be managed by medication if someone was to be affected.
These medications are largely concerned with treating joint pain, as well as keeping the person hydrated.
Mosquitoes in Cuba: How to Avoid Them
If that all sounds a little scary, it really shouldn’t be.
It is important to note that Cuba, is famously proactive when it comes to fighting tropical diseases—acquiring experience that will be useful now that the whole world is turning into the tropics.
Maintaining public health is part of Havana’s broader socialist ethos, but also essential for its critical tourist industry.
While it’s possible to become infected after being bitten by a mosquito, such transmissions remain quite rare.
What you need to do is take precautions so that mosquitos in Cuba don’t ruin your time on the island nation.
- Pack Wisely: While the heat of Cuba means that you won’t be in the mood to cover up, you should have a few long-sleeve shirts and a pair of pants with you. It’s hard to balance these clothes with the heat and humidity, so you just need to make sure that these cover-up clothes are made of lightweight, organic materials. Something like a thin cotton is perfect. If the clothes are too heavy, you might become uncomfortable, and clothes made from synthetic materials can make you sweat too much.
- Repel Those Bugs: Take enough mosquito repellant to last for your entire trip. This is not something you can count on being able to find once you arrive in Cuba. Things that you might consider to be basic can be hard to track down in Cuba, and are often seen as being luxury items. So when you’re making a list of everything you need to take to Cuba, make sure you include mosquito repellant.
- The Electric Solution: You might want to bring a few of those plug-in mosquito coils to leave on while you sleep. These devices can be highly effective, but like repellant, can be hard to find once you’re actually in Cuba. Don’t forget that you will need to bring an electrical adaptor so that you are able to use these coils.
- A Matter of Smell: It doesn’t matter if you’re going out for dinner in Paris or will be hiking through the heart of Cuba, some people are in the habit of spraying on some perfume or cologne before they go out. This is something you should avoid while in rural Cuba. It’s thought that mosquitos can be attracted to the sweet scent and essential oils of the fragrance. You can go without wearing fragrance for a few days.
We can’t stress this enough: Mosquitoes in Cuba are something you should be aware of, rather than alarmed about.
If you have any major concerns, it can be smart to have a word with your doctor before you travel.