The Most Effective Ways to Protect Yourself From Zika

A lot of people are worried about the Zika Virus this summer. No matter where they live. Here in Connecticut, I can’t help but wonder, if or when a Zika mosquito will make its home in my backyard. How much I am going to spend on bug spray repellants over the next couple months? Are cargo pants and fly fishing gear going to be all the rage this summer season? Before you go out and buy the first bug spray you see at the supermarket or pharmacy, you’ll want to read up on the most effective ways to protect yourself and children.

The Zika virus has so far affected people mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, but we are starting to see more and more cases popping up in the United States. Not because the mosquitos that carry the virus are breeding here, but because people traveling outside of the US contract the virus and bring it into the states. Just yesterday, the second known case of a baby with Zika-related birth defects was born in New Jersey. The mother, who does not wish to be identified, was traveling from Honduras.

Mosquito and disease experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have forecasted the Zika virus will likely be carried by mosquitos across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms up during the summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers guidance using these maps which represent where mosquitoes that are more likely to carry illnesses such as Zika, have been previously found. This however does not represent any clear-cut prediction of where the disease will spread.

MLB Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, a 34-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, contracted the virus this past offseason and learned just how serious the illness can be. He was laid up for two weeks with severe body aches, headaches, and joint pain among other symptoms.

His advice? Know how to protect yourself and your family!

Did you know a mosquito can get Zika from biting someone with the virus?

Travelers returning to the US from an area with Zika should always take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread the Zika virus to other mosquitoes that could then spread the virus to other people back home, according to the CDC.

What Else We Know For Sure About the Zika Virus and Protection:

  • The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites. It’s carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which are mostly out during the daytime, according to the CDC.
  • Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.
  • There is no vaccine for the virus.
  • Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future zika infections.
  • You can prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites and practicing safe sex or being abstinent.

How To Prevent Getting Bit by Mosquitos:

  • Wear Protective Clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. As well, you can purchase pre-treated clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items which deter mosquitos like a spray repellant, according to the EPA.  Be sure to read product information to learn how long the protection will last.
  • Stay Inside: Stay inside with air conditioning. Make sure windows and door screens are closed in order to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Get rid of standing water around home: Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home, by removing any items that collect standing water.  Mosquitoes lay their eggs near water!
  • Mosquito net for the bed: Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites while inside.
  • Use bug spray: But don’t just start spraying any bug spray all over yourself. Use EPA- registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Consumer Reports tested out the popular repellants effectiveness. Check out the results here. Apply the insect repellent as directed, and avoid spraying directly on the skin. If you are using sunscreen, be sure to apply that first and then bug spray afterwards.

How to Prevent Children from Being Bitten by Mosquitos:

  • Be careful with using bug spray on young children and infants: Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. You also want to avoid sprays containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Don’t apply bug spray directly to child: Always spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face. You want to avoid applying insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin, according to the CDC.
  • Bring Mosquito nets everywhere: Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting when out and about or just at home.

The summer months make it hard to stay indoors. No one wants to be worrying about mosquito breeding grounds, especially if you are a nature enthusiast, travel junkie, pregnant, or already have children. One weekend you’re out at the beach, swimming in the ocean and the next you are BBQing by a lake. To ensure your outdoor activities this summer are Zika-free, keep this article handy and remember to employ these easy and effective measures.