mosquito, insect-borne diseases
Photo by Eka Melev
Mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths worldwide than all mammals put together

Knowing what medical issues you may contend with in various scenarios is the first step to being an effective “survival medic.” Armed with medical knowledge, the medic can accumulate the supplies and skills that will save lives in the uncertain future. In this series, let’s examine some important medical issues for which the off-grid caregiver must prepare. This time, we’ll discuss insect-borne diseases.

Insect-Borne Diseases

Millions suffer from illnesses spread by bites from insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. These bugs are hosts for microscopic organisms that use them as hosts: examples include malaria, Zika virus, and Lyme disease. Controlling insect populations and decreasing exposure will be imperative if the medic is to keep people healthy in infested areas. To decrease the risk of mosquito bites, you should consider:

  • Looking for areas of standing water that are breeding grounds. Drain all water that you do not depend on for survival.
  • Installing screens on your retreat windows and doors, and repairing any holes or defects.
  • Being careful to avoid outside activities at dusk or dawn. This is the time that mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wearing long pants and shirts whenever venturing outside in mosquito-infested areas.
  • Having a good stockpile of insect repellents.

To Avoid Tick Bites:

  • Add thick socks and high-top boots and wear long pants and sleeves on the trail. Tuck pants legs into the boots.
  • Walk in the center of trails; ticks often station themselves on bushes on the edge.
  • Enforce the use of insect repellants on exposed skin and the exterior of clothing.
  • Thoroughly examine your people after a day outdoors; wash if possible. Pay special attention to children and dogs.

The most useful chemical repellent off-grid is DEET (scientific name: N,N Diethyl-Meta-Toluamide). It works against both mosquitoes and ticks. In most circumstances, a concentration of 10 to 35 percent DEET will provide adequate protection.  The longer the protection is required, the higher concentration you should use. Cover exposed skin and clothing; wash both afterward.

Another option for clothing is Permethrin 0.5%, which should be applied 24 to 48 hours before wearing. Proper application will even withstand laundering. Natural repellent alternatives include oil of citronella or lemon eucalyptus.

This article is from Survivor’s Edge Survival Experts Handbook 2018 Special Edition Magazine. Grab your copy at

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