Zika Virus Prevention – What Can You Do?
The Zika virus is a disease spread by mosquitos. It is famously known for making individuals suffering from it feel deathly ill. It typically causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, joint pain, and fatigue. Zika virus can also be accompanied by red eyes and a rash. It is best for individuals to avoid this disease at all costs, especially if pregnant, as it may cause serious health complications for both the mom and baby. Thankfully, individuals can prevent the development of
the Zika virus by avoiding mosquitos with these helpful tips.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Wearing the right clothing can go a long way in repelling mosquitos. When in an area that has had recent outbreaks of the Zika virus, it is important for individuals to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that fully cover the legs. Loose clothing will be more efficient than tight-fighting options and the thicker the material is, the less likely a mosquito will be able to bite through it. Also, the lighter in color the clothes are, the better, as mosquitos are more attracted to dark tones.
Administer Bug Spray
Applying strong bug spray liberally is wise for keeping mosquitos at bay. When traveling to affected areas, individuals should always keep various forms of repellent handy and administer them as much as needed. This is a time where investing in a more expensive, yet effective, brand is well worth the extra money spent. Taking a week's worth of sick days from work is far more detrimental to an individual's budget than spending a few extra dollars on a top-quality bug spray.
Use Mosquito Netting
If sleeping outdoors, mosquito netting is essential in preventing bug bites. The last thing an individual wants is to wake up to countless bites that could potentially lead to harmful diseases. When thoroughly surrounded by netting, mosquitos have little opportunity to prey on their victims and everyone who is protected can sleep soundly through the night. If sleeping inside, individuals can invest in a screen door to keep mosquitos out of the home. Leaving doors open is ideal in warm weather, but not without some protective covering that can let the breeze in, while keeping the bugs out.
Avoid Standing Water
Mosquitos flock to standing water and use it as a breeding ground. By checking hoses, gutters, and other places throughout the yard for water, and by keeping these areas as dry as possible, mosquitos will be less likely to accumulate around the home. Bird baths, tire swings, and playground sets are also places where water tends to accumulate. Keep an eye on these common areas to substantially reduce the risk of attracting mosquitos.
Be A Careful Traveler
The best way to avoid the Zika virus is by avoiding areas that have had a lot of recent outbreaks. If a woman is pregnant, thinks they may be, or plans to be in the near future, staying away from infected areas is crucial in protecting not only her health, but her child's health as well. The Zika virus can be transmitted to the baby through the mother and cause severe congenital disabilities and health issues. Adjust any travel plans accordingly and avoid infected areas at all costs. If traveling must continue as planned, follow the previously listed tips for preventing mosquito bites.
Stay In Air-Conditioned Rooms With Screens
Air conditioning and screens are two major methods that can be used to prevent mosquito bites and Zika virus transmission. Healthcare professionals recommend for travelers to areas with a high risk of the Zika virus to stay in air-conditioned rooms with screens. Air conditioning should be used during the day and also at night, as mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are active at all times. Travelers should inspect screens for holes or other damage. If holes are present, these should be sealed and repaired as soon as possible. In addition to screens over the windows, travelers are advised to place mosquito nets over their beds for use at night.
Wear Clothing Treated With Insect Repellents
Doctors advise adults and children to wear clothing treated with insect repellents in Zika-prone areas. Travelers may wish to consider purchasing special outdoor clothing pre-treated with an insecticide called permethrin. This insecticide can also be purchased and sprayed on other clothes that will be used for the trip. Healthcare professionals recommend travelers to also spray permethrin on socks, shoes, and tents. Permethrin will provide protection through several washes, and it should never be sprayed directly on the skin. When selecting clothing, travelers should consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and the pants need to be tucked into the traveler's socks. Even if permethrin-treated clothing is used, it might still be beneficial to apply additional insect repellent to the skin. Lemon or eucalyptus oil, picaridin, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are safe to use for children over two years old, adults, and individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Insect repellent should never be applied to the skin of patients under two years old. When using repellent, it should be sprayed into the hands and rubbed onto the face; it should never be sprayed directly on the face or eyes.
Plan Travel Activities Around Risk Factors
Travelers to Zika-prone areas should plan travel activities around risk factors. We know pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas where a Zika outbreak is occurring. Patients can find out about current outbreaks through news sites and through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the patient does go on a trip to an area experiencing a Zika outbreak, they should limit outdoor activities such as water sports and hiking. Indoor activities in air-conditioned areas, including trips to museums, may be safer in terms of avoiding the Zika virus. Patients should also familiarize themselves with the symptoms of the Zika virus just in case. Symptoms normally develop within a week of infection, and patients should see their doctor for a prompt diagnosis. After returning from the trip, patients should continue to plan their activities in a way that reduces their exposure to mosquitoes for the next three weeks, and they should continue to wear insect repellent.