In our experience Cuba has less mosquitoes than other popular tropical holiday destinations, like Costa Rica or Colombia. Nonetheless, in Cuba, as in any tropical country, there are plenty of insects at any time of the year.
In Cuba, as in any tropical country, there are plenty of insects at any time of the year. This may result inconvenient, as you will have to constantly watch out if you don’t want to be bitten by a mosquito. And while locals are already used to it, tourists may struggle with these issues. Therefore, those who are afraid to be severely bitten by insects, may want to make sure they schedule their trip to the island for the dry season when there are fewer mosquitoes.
Protecting yourself against Mosquitos in Cuba
- Consider visiting the country during the dry season, which is from November to April. During the wet season (May through October) there are much more insects.
- Avoid going out in the countryside after (and specially during sunset). In these conditions, compared to daytime and the city, the number of mosquitoes increases dramatically.
- If you still want to go out during the night, put on some light wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Although you may not want to bring such clothes to Cuba because of the hot climate of the country, it will be of great help against mosquitoes.
- Bring some mosquito repellant from home. In Cuba it may be hard to find, or more expensive, so it is better to make sure and buy it in advance.
- Consider using some natural remedies against mosquitoes. Some products that are proven to repel these insects are essential oils (lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, thyme oil, tea tree oil, etc.), lavender, geraniol, and others.
- You may also find it useful to bring some electric mosquito coils to plug in while you sleep. You won’t find these in Cuba, so you will have to buy it in your country as well.
- Close all the windows in your lodging before going to sleep. If you are staying in a room without air conditioning, this may be inconvenient, especially in the summer. Then, you have the option of bringing a mosquito net to hang over your bed, which will provide you with a minimal physical barrier between you and the insects.
- In rural areas, try to avoid smells that attract mosquitoes. These may be strong sweet smells of perfume, and also the smell of your sweat.
How does Cuba fight against mosquitos?
The Cuban government is also fighting mosquitoes. These insects may transport such diseases as dengue, zika, and chikungunya, which is why there are complex anti-vectoral campaigns in the country since 1981. Doctors and nurses in local health clinics work along with more than 15,000 fumigators all across the country to eradicate these diseases. The fumigators are usually young men on their mandatory military service. They go door-to-door with big “mosquito guns” filled with insecticide spray and fumigate every home.
However, apart from the annoyance of being eaten alive by mosquitoes, there are far more dangerous effects of a mosquito bite. These insects may transport such diseases as dengue, zika, and chikungunya, which may have severe complications and seriously damage one’s health. In the Americas, they are majorly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. You may easily recognize it by the white marks on its legs. However, if you ever get bitten by such a mosquito, it does not mean you have contracted one of these diseases. They are only transmitted by female specimen, who have previously bitten an individual infected by the disease.
Health problems caused by mosquitos
Many of the symptoms are common for dengue, zika and chikungunya, which is why it may be difficult to differentiate between the illnesses, especially on early stages of infection and without laboratory analysis. These symptoms are high fever, joint pain, rash, headache, and muscle pain. With adequate treatment, most patients begin to feel better within a week, but the effects of the disease may be more severe in pregnant women, as some studies have found correlations between zika virus infection and congenital malformations in the fetus.
This species of mosquito prefers to live and breed in hot and humid areas, which is why there is the most incidence of mosquito-borne diseases in tropical regions during the wet season. Therefore, you should avoid places with stagnant water, such as puddles and uncovered barrels. Also, although the mosquito can bite all day long, it is most common for them to bite during dusk and, especially dawn. These are the times of the day when you should be most careful not to get bitten by a mosquito.
If during your stay in Cuba you notice the symptoms we have mentioned above and suspect that you have contracted dengue, zika or chikungunya, it is advisable to seek medical care immediately. Without treatment, these viruses have led to a significant number of cases of mortality. Also, if it turns out that you are actually sick with one of these diseases, but are not hospitalized and isolated from future mosquito bites, you increase the risk of transmitting the illness to other people.
Treating Mosquito related illnesses in Cuba
The Cuban health system focuses not only on treating diseases, but preventing them as well; therefore, the doctors always thoroughly check the citizens who exit and enter the country, especially if they have been in countries where the aforementioned diseases are common. Other prevention methods include maintaining the places where mosquitoes usually reproduce clean, keeping water tanks covered, and providing the population with products that help against mosquitoes. Also, if a case of a disease has been diagnosed, it is immediately, while all the houses within 150 meters from the patient’s house are checked for symptoms.
Following these rules, the Cuban healthcare system has been able to control mosquito-transmitted diseases on the island and lessen the number of insects living here.