Hey there, mosquito haters. Today we’re talking about a crucial weapon in the fight against those pesky, disease-carrying critters: mosquito nets. They’re popular in the northern provinces of South Africa, and their use is widespread, but are they all they’re purported to be? Let’s dive into how mosquito nets work, their effectiveness in South Africa, and if they can really keep you safe from malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
Mosquito nets are mesh barriers that people drape over beds or other sleeping areas to protect from mosquito bites. Nets for mosquito control come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from individual nets that cover just one person, to larger nets that can cover entire beds. You can even find colourful hand-dyed mosquito nets.
Often, they can be made of different materials, such as cotton or polyester. People also sometimes have them treated with insecticide to further enhance the mosquito protection they offer.
Mosquito nets work by creating a physical barrier between individuals and mosquitoes. The mozzies can’t get past the net, which has holes too tiny for them to squeeze through. If you use them properly, they can prevent mosquitoes from biting you and transmitting diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus.
Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) are mosquito nets that have been treated with insecticide. The treatment of mosquito nets can be either long-lasting or short-term, and can greatly enhance the effectiveness of the net in preventing mosquito bites and reducing malaria transmission. Long-lasting insecticidal bed nets can remain effective for up to three years, even with regular use.
Insecticide-treated bed nets are not an infallible solution to stopping mosquito bites. Talk to any South African with experience, and they can attest to the persistence of mosquitoes in their attempts to pierce the barrier. Strands that separate the holes in the nets can, over time, snap, making holes that, however tiny, can allow a mosquito to squeeze through.
They also try to find ways to enter, perhaps when you yourself enter the net. They can also live in hidden spaces within the space covered by the net for periods of time if they find a way in. This is why nets alone are not infallible, and the reason why long-lasting insecticide-treated nets are most often used in anti-malarial efforts.
Mosquito nets have played a critical role in malaria control efforts in South Africa. A cross-sectional study published in the Malaria Journal found that the use of mosquito nets was associated with a reduced risk of malaria infection in vulnerable populations, particularly African children under the age of five.
Mass distribution campaigns of ITNs have been carried out in many countries, including South Africa, to increase levels of coverage and make nets more accessible to the poorest households. According to household-level health surveys, ITN coverage rates in South Africa have increased significantly in recent years, with an estimated 74% of households owning at least one ITN in 2018.
When it comes to protecting our little ones from the dangers of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, safety is a top concern. But are Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) really safe for children?
The good news is that LLINs are generally considered safe for kids. The insecticides used to treat the nets are applied at low concentrations, so they’re only effective against pesky mosquitoes. And you know what else? The World Health Organization (WHO) regularly evaluates the safety and efficacy of these nets, giving its stamp of approval only to those that meet its safety and quality standards.
That being said, there are some health concerns to keep in mind. For instance, LLINs can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people, especially if the net isn’t washed properly or if the insecticide has worn off. And there have been some rare reports of respiratory problems associated with LLIN use.
But don’t let that scare you away! Following the instructions for proper use can minimize these risks. That means using the nets only for their intended purpose, washing them regularly, and replacing them if they become damaged or ineffective. Plus, it’s important to remember that LLINs aren’t the only solution for controlling malaria. Combining them with other measures, like Mozzie Patches, can help protect your family even more.
In addition to mosquito nets, other malaria control strategies include residual spraying of insecticide indoors and outdoors, chemoprophylaxis (preventive medication), and environmental management to reduce mosquito breeding sites. While these strategies can be effective, no solution is infallible, so an approach using multiple methods is advised. It’s also important to consider how chemicals can affect your environment and family when choosing a solution.
For those who may be allergic to insecticides or have concerns about using mosquito nets, Mozzie Skin Patches are a natural alternative you can consider. Our patches use only Vitamin B1 to repel mosquitoes without the need for harsh chemicals.
Plus, our patches can be worn on the skin, making them a portable and convenient solution for outdoor activities. You can shop for patches to protect you and your loved ones for up to 36 hours at our online store. We deliver nationwide!