Warm weather and Summer means more outdoor time for kids and families. Unfortunately it also means more bug bites. With the Zika Virus making the news lately it’s important to have good information about the virus, how it spreads and how you can minimize your risk for bites.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although most cases of it have been abroad, they report that cases among those traveling will likely continue to increase, and that the imported cases could result in the local spread of the virus throughout the country. In other words, it may have been an issue that was largely in parts of Africa, Asia Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands, but it is likely to become an issue this summer right here in America.
What is Zika? Zika is a virus that spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. It’s important to know about Zika in order to help avoid getting it. For example, the mosquitoes that spread Zika mostly bite during the day. Also, those daytime mosquitoes that spread Zika also tend to spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
So how do you avoid Zika.. Avoid Bites. While that might seem impossible, there are a few things you can do to minimize bites and exposure to mosquitoes.
1. Avoid being in areas where there will be a lot of mosquitoes, know the types of environments mosquitoes are drawn to, and plan your summer activities accordingly.
- Install or repair and use window and door screens. Do not leave doors propped open.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
- For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
- Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions.
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
2. Dress Properly: Opt for wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt, so that less of your skin is exposed. Use repellent according to product label Instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
3. Know the Symptoms:
- Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a place where Zika has been reported. Be sure to tell your doctor or other healthcare provider where you traveled.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.
- Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.