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British Travel Health

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British Travel Health

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British Travel Health

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British Travel Health

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Travel Sundries

Besides medical and first aid supplies, there are other items which are very often required by global travellers, these include:-

Insect Repellents
Mosquito Nets
Sun Screens & Sun Blocks
Water Purification

Most of these items can be obtained on-line from Nomad Travel, MASTA or from Up & Under of Cardiff - see the links at the bottom the page.


Chemical repellents are the best and perhaps the only suitable personal protection against outdoor biting insects.

Repellents act by interfering with the sense organs with which insects locate their victims.

Most of the commercially available insect repellents contain diethyl toluamide (DEET), or dimethylphthalate (DMP).

These preparations come as lotions, sticks, gels, creams, or in aerosol cans or pump-action dispensers.

DEET is apparently effective against all free-flying biting insects.

DEET has been used without harm by millions of people. However, there have been occasional reports of serious reactions in a few individuals. Anyone who suspects an adverse reaction to DEET should stop using it immediately and seek medical advice.

The chances of an adverse skin reaction are reduced if DEET is impregnated into clothing rather than applied directly to the skin.

When applied to the skin, DEET remains effective for only a few hours. However, when impregnated into cotton (not synthetic) material it remains effective for several weeks.

When sitting down out of doors, most mosquito bites occur on the ankles or feet. Cotton ankle bands impregnated with DEET have been found to give up to 85% reduction in bites by several species of mosquitos.

MozzyOff is a 100% natural midge and mosquito repellent and an alternative to DEET for those who cannot tolerate it.

Made from plant oils, MozzyOff offers you up to six hours protection from biting insects such as midges and mosquitoes, black fly and gnats. It's water resistant and unlike chemical based products, MozzyOff repellent will not harm synthetic materials. MozzyOff is also biodegradable and the packaging is recycled and recyclable so its good news for the environment too.

MozzyOff is kind to your skin and its inherent soothing properties mean that it will relieve the itch of previous bites and hopefully stop you getting bitten again. For further information see

Another option is to wear insect repellent, impregnated clothes. In this case the repellent Permethrin is used and is tightly bonded to the fibres of the garment. When insects are exposed to this repellent their neurons are agitated, rendering them unable to coordinate voluntary muscles, and thus unable to attack. Unlike traditional insect repellents, Insect Repellent Clothing puts the insect repellent on the clothes you wear, not on your skin.

Traditional repellents usually last for several hours but with permethrin-based insect repellent clothing, the insect repellent is IN YOUR CLOTHING, not on your skin and keeps working as long as you’re wearing the shirt, trousers, hat or other garment.

Permethrin has been shown to be effective the entire time the impregnated clothing is worn and is effective in repelling mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and no-see-ums.

 Insect Repellent Clothing with Permethrin

Mosquito Nets

The use of a mosquito net is strongly recommended wherever there is any risk of bites from mosquitoes that bite at night.

It is well worth buying a good quality net, because any slippage of the weave would allow mosquitoes to enter. Any tears should be repaired or blocked with cotton wool and the net should be tucked in carefully under the mattress.

The net should be checked after getting into bed, using an electric torch to make sure that no gaps are left. Care should also be taken not to sleep with any part of the body touching the net since mosquitoes can feed through nets.

Increased security can be achieved by impregnating the net with permethrin which is very effective in killing or repelling mosquitoes which come into contact with it.

Many hotels in the tropics provide mosquito nets. If in doubt it would be worth taking your own.

Another useful measure is to spray your room (or tent) with an insecticide aerosol spray after closing the doors and any windows. This will kill any insects that entered the room earlier but not any that enter later. For this reason all doors and windows should be kept closed during the night.

Sun Screens & Sun Blocks

Sunlight contains Ultra Violet light which can be further categorised as UVA and UVB.

Exposure to UVB increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, two forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. It is also responsible for sunburn.

Exposure to UVA causes skin ageing and there's a high level of concern that UVA increases the risk of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. In contrast to UVB, UVA does not cause sunburn.

Sunscreen sun protection factors (SPF) are measured by timing how long skin covered with sunscreen takes to burn compared to uncovered skin. For example, SPF 15 means it will take 15 times longer to burn when wearing the sunscreen.

Although they found that the sunscreen lotions did protect well against UVB rays, the UVA protection was less than satisfactory.

Because SPF factors only look at burning times, they only apply to UVB rays.

In the UK the number of cases of skin cancer are said to be rising faster each year than for any other form of cancer. Part of the reason is thought to be due to our changing lifestyles, for example more people are sunbathing and taking more holidays in sunnier climates, increasing their exposure to harmful UV rays.

Part of the Government's safe sun message advises people to use protective sunscreen but, according to new research, while useful for protecting against UVB rays, lotions are less protective against harmful UVA. What's more, it's possible that people might be staying out in the sun longer because they think their skin is being protected, actually increasing their exposure to UVA.

It is hoped that future sunscreens will include better protection against UVA.

Currently there are two types of product used for sun protection:-

Absorbents which work by screening out the sun's rays by a factor which is displayed on the container. They come in various forms e.g. lotions, oils, creams, etc.

Reflectants which are creams usually white and based on zinc oxide which totally block out the sun by forming a physical barrier.

Both forms can be purchased from a number of outlets e.g. Pharmacies, sports shops, outdoor equipment suppliers, supermarkets, etc.

Good sun protection methods include staying in the shade during the peak sun strength times, covering up, wearing sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat and using an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen.

For more information on sun screens & sun blocks, go to the page entitled:- Exposure to the Sun

Water Purification

When you travel abroad you should always assume that the water is unsafe to drink unless you know otherwise. Even in European hotels and holiday resorts it is a good policy not to drink the local tap water.

Safe Water for International Travelers (SWIT) - is an independent organization that provides the best available information about water safety around the world. Information is gathered from the most important and trustworthy sources. They have a web site which categorizes the state of the drinking water in any given country.

There are many diseases that can be spread by contaminated drinking water including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery and several diarrhoeas.

Nowadays safe drinking water is available world-wide in sealed plastic bottles but you should always make sure that the seal is in tact when you receive a bottle. If not, do not accept it, it could have been refilled from another source.

In very remote areas where drinking the local water is the only option available, some form of purification may be necessary.

Water purification entails disinfection and removal of suspended particles. There are three options available:-

Boiling, Iodination & Filtration

Quite often it is necessary to employ more than one method. When this is the case always filter water before boiling it and boil water before treating with iodine, but always wait for boiled water to cool down before adding the iodine.

The simplest and most effective method of water purification is boiling for five minutes (longer at altitude). When cooled, the water should be kept in a clean sealable container to avoid recontamination.

Chemical purification using iodine is another option but care must be taken not to take too much. Iodine should only be used for short periods and people with thyroid problems should consult with their doctor before using it.

Iodine is a very effective disinfectant and Iodination is preferable to chlorination since iodine is effective against waterborne pathogens, Giardia and other resistant organisms like amoebic cysts which are resistant to chlorine. It can also be used to purify water for washing and cooking.

It is available as tablets, crystals or tincture (drops). You should always follow the usage instructions on the container.

After adding the iodine, allow the water to stand for at least thirty minutes before drinking.

Update on Iodine

The use of iodine for water purification is no longer allowed under the EU biocide regulations! This is because none of the current manufacturers have registered the product under the EU biocide system. It is not due to concerns about any adverse effects or the efficacy of iodine.

Pharmacists in the EU can continue to sell non iodine containing water purification tablets for water sterilisation. However, Iodine can still be sold for its other licensed indications.

Iodine remains the best method of chemical purification and is very safe if the guidelines to its use are followed.

This is simply another example of ridiculous EU bureaucracy and does not affect the rest of the world where it remains available.

The third method is by filtration which is essential when the water is turbid or there is a high degree of suspended matter.

The filter will clarify the turbid water by removing silt, algae and other suspended matter. Suspended organic particles also interfere with the process of chemical disinfection.

Units used to filter water should be dependable, easily maintained and give some indication of when their useful life has expired.

Filters remove impurities from the water by mechanical straining and some form of further purification is almost always necessary.

This is because filters work by drawing water through a microporous element such as as a ceramic filter with a pore size of 0.2 microns.

This will remove all pathogenic bacteria, cysts, protozoa and helminths but not viruses that are much smaller than the 0.2 microns, and since hepatitis A and several forms of diarrhoea are caused by viruses further treatment is necessary.

Beware of extravagant claims made by manufacturers as to the effectiveness of water filters without producing convincing evidence of their claims. Remember, the life of a filter is greatly lowered when used with highly turbid water and the filter should be checked periodically for cracks and leaks.

There are several filters available commercially some of which are quite expensive so you should seek specialist advice before purchasing one.

N.B. Drinking water that has been purified by filtration alone should only be considered if you are happy about the quality of the source but filtered water should always be boiled or disinfected before giving to children and babies.

For those who find themselves in places where the water is doubtful or even dangerous to drink, bw technologies, the water quality specialists have a range of safe, effective water filtration systems; The aquapure traveller, survivor4i and inline filters are unique, self-contained, convenient water purification systems designed to fit into a bottle or hydration system.

Adventure holidays now make up a large proportion of the total holidays bought in the UK. Adventure holidays do involve a certain amount of self sufficiency, even on a totally managed holiday. Imagine never having to worry about where your water comes from or buying bottle water again. Some bottled waters in less developed countries are no more than local tap water put into branded self-sealing bottles.

One pure hydration filter can save as much as 700 plastic bottles from being dumped.

In fact, there are places on the planet that do not allow you to use disposable plastic bottles. The Inca trail is just one of them.

Safe Water Website

Each year 10 million international travellers or expatriates, suffer severe waterborne diseases from ingestion of contaminated water or food while travelling or staying abroad.

Worldwide, unsafe water is a major problem. One billion people do not have access to safe water. It is estimated that diarrhoeal diseases that result from contaminated water kill about 2 million children and cause about 900 million episodes of illness each year.

However, international travellers should not become hysterical about avoiding all water whilst travelling abroad. Most of the general information sites for travellers recommend to avoid drinking water anywhere abroad. But to avoid water where it is safe, could be as annoying, as it is dangerous to drink it where it is not safe.

Information is now available on the purity of drinking water worldwide. For a list of all the countries and the quality of their drinking water:

Click Here

A good selection of travel sundries can be obtained on-line from the following sources:-

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