Bug off, Mosquitoes!


You may know that mosquitoes carry disease. But did you know that disease epidemics from mosquito-borne viruses are on the rise? Protect yourself against mosquitoes, and know how TRICARE covers you if you suffer more than the usual itchy bite this summer.

Mosquitoes are flying insects known for their irritating bites. While most mosquitoes simply cause itchy bites, if infected, they can spread disease. Some common ones include:

  • Malaria. If traveling to Central America, South America, East or West Africa, or South Asia, talk to your doctor about medications to prevent malaria and understand your options. If symptoms arise, a doctor can diagnose malaria with a blood test.
  • Yellow fever. There is currently a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if you haven’t received the yellow fever vaccine, postpone travel to Brazil. If you must travel to South America or Africa, where yellow fever is most common, consider getting vaccinated. TRICARE covers yellow fever vaccine or other vaccines required for overseas travel for active duty family members traveling with their sponsor on official travel or permanent change of station orders.
  • Zika. While it doesn’t usually require hospitalization, the CDC warns that the Zika virus presents additional risk for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, consider postponing travel to areas where the virus is active, like parts of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Check the world map of areas with risk of Zika for the latest information.
  • West Nile virus. Last year, the West Nile virus affected more than 2,000 Americans and caused over 120 deaths. But not all cases are severe. Within the U.S., West Nile is most common in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Mississippi, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.

Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases no matter where you are. Here are some ways that you can prevent mosquito bites and reduce your chances of getting sick:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants when exploring outdoors, especially at night.
  • Use an insect repellant registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and reapply frequently when outdoors.
  • Sleep in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
Take command of your health this summer and stay alert in the fight against mosquito-borne disease. For more on bugs, check out Bug Week at the Military Health System. For more on your benefits and what TRICARE covers, check out the TRICARE website.

Last Updated 9/1/2020