Link to Vetted International

Brought to you by Vetted International Travel Assistance
"Like" us on Facebook!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Mosquito?

Lately, when you do a brief scan of the news, it seems like the entire world is plagued by acts of terrorism, violence and unrest. The media portrays the world as being in a state of chaos- full of uncertainty and danger- sometimes to the point of making it seem as though it is a risk to even go outside- as terrorists are on every corner and every city around the globe. While yes, terrorists are everywhere, what kind of threat do they really pose to the average traveler?
According to the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism, in 2013, there were nearly 18,000 deaths globally as result of terror attacks, with more than one-third of them occurring in Iraq. How many vacations, business trips and travel opportunities have been cancelled or postponed because of the imminent threat of terrorism?
How do we make choices about our travel plans when there is a need to evaluate the level of risk involved? In examining how individuals act, feel and think about risk and their decision to travel/not travel, we have to take a look at the psychology of risk. This includes their perception of hazard, how they make decisions, what they deem “safe”, and how they rate the value of the reward of travel (as in, risk over reward).
One aspect of how we as humans gauge risk comes back to the rhetoric and language surrounding the potential danger.
The shifting nature of terrorism and the semantics used to describe it have changed the way travelers think of global violence. In an article recently published by Al Jazeera, author Michael Pizzi describes a “new model of terror”, one that is evolving and fearful, and discusses the acceleration of “hard-to-detect lone wolf or wolf pack attacks”.
In traditional folklore, the wolf is the predator- it is strongly associated with danger and darkness, evil and sneaky attacks. In general, it is a fearful creature that is pinned against man, always with malicious intentions. This kind of imagery is extremely powerful, and creates an emotive response almost immediately. Interestingly, in most cultures, the symbolism of the wolf is consistent. 
At the same time, the American Mosquito Control Association estimates that between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people each year are killed by the diseases that mosquitoes carry (ranging from Dengue Fever to Malaria).
A wolf sounds more threatening than a little mosquito that we can crush between our fingertips. When in reality, we should be way more fearful of the mosquito than the “wolf”.
"...yet how many mosquitoes were given
the power to stop us from traveling?"

We have the ability to shift our perspective and change the risk-response by educating ourselves about our destinations and preparing for the unexpected. One way to do this is to do a pre-travel assessment, which involves reviewing the issues that can affect the traveler while on their trip, and creating plans of action for such incidents. Collecting information on the current events and happenings of your destination, registering with the embassy, talking to your family and friends about your itinerary- these are all great means to travel smart and travel safe. Travelers can also partner with their Travel Assistance provider to plan ahead, should an incident requiring an evacuation take place. These companies can provide DNA storage, country briefings, and other pre-travel safety measures can be taken so that you can travel at ease.
In the big picture, terrorism is not something to take lightly or ignore, as yes, it is a threat. However, from a statistical perspective, it also isn’t a great enough reason to avoid travel altogether. Mosquitoes are present in nearly every country on Earth, and can survive in harsh environments, including arctic and volcanic regions. How many mosquitoes were given the power to stop us from traveling? Probably not too many.


1 comment:

  1. It was announced yesterday that new research has provided some insight as to the genetics underpinning resistance to a malaria drug.

    Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Malaria is preventable and curable, yet according to WHO, it killed approximately 584,000 people in 2013.
    This new research is exciting, as it can transform the treatment currently available, and also (hopefully) contribute to the ultimate eradication of the disease.

    The full article can be viewed at