Regarding insect Bites & Stings
Mosquitoes are particularly invasive during the rainy season but not very abundant at Paracou station. Contrary to generally accepted ideas, they are fewer in forested areas. Besides, mosquitoes might not always carry malaria or dengue fever, but they (and other insects) can cause inflammatory irritation and infected bites. To avoid these, take the same precautions you would for avoiding drawbacks. Stings or bites are widely not dangerous. Bee and wasp stings cause real problems only to those who have a severe allergy to the stings (anaphylaxis). If you are one of these people, make sure you carry an adrenalin (epinephrine) injection, which you can give yourself. This could save your life. Ants become more punishing, particularly as they are a lot. According the specie, its sting can be painful. Paraponera clavata, or bullet ants, locally called fourmis flamandes are occasional. Although they are painful, they are not a major danger. Chiggers is small acaria,s and presents in grassy savannah. It’s preferably wearing high shoes to avoid bites. In case of stings, there is nothing seriously wrong. Scorpions and spiders bites are sometimes found in tropical forest climates. They can cause a painful sting that is sometimes life-threatening. If stung by a scorpion, take a painkiller. Medical treatment should be sought if collapse occurs.
Relatively few species include venomous in French Guiana (for example: coral viper or rattlesnake). The legendary anaconda longer than 5m are absent in Paracou. Visitors should however urge caution. Generally though, snakes bite humans when they feel quite unsafe. However, 50% of those bitten by venomous snakes are not actually injected with poison (envenomed). If bitten by a snake, do not panic. Immobilise the bitten limb with a splint (such as a stick) and apply a bandage over the site, with firm pressure – similar to bandaging a sprain. Do not apply a tourniquet, or cut or suck the bite. Get the victim to medical help as soon as possible, where antivenom can be given if needed. At the life camp, at night, be aware that snakes may move around among the carbets.
Tap water is safe to drink in the coastal cities and main town inland. In Paracou station, safe water is unavailable. To prevent diarrhea, avoid tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (with iodine tablets). If you develop diarrhea, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, preferably an oral rehydration solution containing water, and salt and sugar. If diarrhea is bloody, persists for more than 72 hours or is accompanied by fever, shaking chills or severe abdominal pain, you should seek medical attention.
Finally, visitors can swim safely in rivers. There is not any parasite. Certainly, the brown waters of French Guiana are not attractive, but it is safe and has no pollution. However, keep a close eye about rays on the sandbanks of rivers.
As long as you stay up to date with your vaccinations and take some basic preventive measures, you should be fine. Nonetheless with the moist and warm climate, risks of infection are high. At Paracou station, there is usually a risk of contracting infections caused by vector diseases :
|Dengue fever||Dengue fever is a viral infection found throughout French Guiana. Dengue is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite preferentially during the daytime and are usually found close to human habitations, often indoors. They breed primarily in artificial water containers, such as jars, barrels, cans, cisterns, metal drums, plastic containers and discarded tires. As a result, dengue is especially common in densely populated, urban environments. So, Paracou is almost free of Dengue fever. Dengue usually causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, nausea and vomiting, often followed by a rash. The body aches may be quite uncomfortable, but most cases resolve uneventfully in a few days. There is no treatment for dengue fever except to take analgesics such as acetaminophen/paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids.|
|Chikungunya||French Guiana reported locally transmitted cases of Chikungunya. Chikungunya is a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected daytime biting female mosquitos. In some cases, Chikungunya is asymptomatic. Those with symptoms usually get ill 3-12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include sudden fever and severe muscle and joint pain which usually appear between 3 to 7 days and sometimes 12 days after the bite. They can be accompanied by headache, fatigue nausea, vomiting, and a rash. Although most patients fully recover, chronic joint pain may last for several weeks or months. But Paracou station is far from the cities. As a result, the station is almost free of this infection. We recommend that visitors to the South America protect themselves from mosquito bite.|
|Zika||Zika virus was identified in French Guiana. Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected don't develop any symptoms. Only about 1 in 5 people actually become sick, usually with a rash, joint pain and muscle aches. They can be treated with bed rest and liquids. Zika can have devastating consequences when infection occurs during pregnancy, especially during the first two trimesters. There is no treatment and no vaccine. We recommend that visitors protect themselves from mosquito bite.|
|Malaria||While there is some risk of contracting malaria in certain section of French Guiana’s interior (along the main rivers: Maroni and Oyapock), Paracou is generally free of this disease. It's transmitted by mosquito bites, usually between dusk and dawn. The main symptom is high spiking fevers, which may be accompanied by chills, sweats, headache, body aches, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea. Severe cases may involve the central nervous system and lead to seizures, confusion, coma and death.There is a choice of taking malaria pills. Nevertheless, the team of Paracou doesn’t recommend using it. Protecting yourself against mosquito bites is just the most important.|
|Leishmaniasis||Leishmaniasis can occur in Paracou station. The infection is transmitted by sand flies, which are about one-third the size of mosquitoes. This parasite, mostly transmis by the bite of the female sand flies in genus Phlebotomus, infects mammals including the Man. This genus of sand flies is mostly in the forest from the ground to the top of the canopy. It is mostly active at dawn and dusk, but risks of an infection during daylight should not be underemphasized. In French Guiana, cutaneous leishmaniosis is mostly caused by Leishmania guyanensis. Leishmaniasis may be limited to the skin, causing slow-growing ulcers over exposed parts of the body or (less commonly) disseminate to the bone marrow, liver and spleen. There is no vaccine. To protect yourself from sand flies, follow the same precautions as for mosquitoes.|
|Chagas’ disease||Chagas disease is a parasitic infection that is transmitted by triatomine insects (reduviid bugs). Chagas disease is extremely rare in travelers. However, be sure to protect yourself with a bed net and a good insecticide.|
We will remind you of some principles and precautions to be taken avoid injury:
- We recommend that visitors use Mosquito repellant to avoid bites and infections.
- We recommend wearing a long steeved shirt, long pants and closed shoes
- The nights can become rather cold and we recommend that you bring something warm.
- The minor wound must be disinfected. Or else, the wound will get worse with the general humidity.
The irritations may be prevented by the cream Elenol (french brand), and cured by the cream Eurax (for sale in pharmacies).
In case of emergency
The users will have access to a box containing a satellite phone and a first aid kit. Important numbers to call in case of emergency are indicated. This is located in the guardian house. Of upmost importance: if you have already suffered from allergic reactions of any sort, you must inform Aurélie Dourdain on arrival. The closest hospital is in Kourou.