When it comes to preventing Zika, modern medicine currently offers no vaccine. Instead, individuals need to rely on a litany of strategies to prevent infection and transmission.
While Zika can be transmitted in a variety of ways ““ including from mother to unborn child and through sex with an infected partner ““ mosquito bites from an infected Aedes species mosquito are the primary problem. Last month, health officials in Florida reported the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the mosquitoes’ range could ultimately include large swathes of the United States, including the Tri-State. Although the virus itself is often mild, it can cause severe birth defects and other health complications.
To prevent the risk of Zika infection and protect your family, the CDC recommends you:
Use an EPA-registered insect repellent.
When selecting a bug spray, note that higher percentages of active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR 3023), Bayrepel, icaridin, oil of lemon eucaluptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) and IR3535 provide longer protection. Although some individuals prefer natural insect repellents, which are not registered with the EPA, the CDC cautions their effectiveness has not been tested.
Use special care when protecting children with repellent.
While you want to protect children from mosquito bites, you also want to exercise caution when using repellent. Be sure to follow package instructions and do not use repellant on babies younger than two months. When applying repellent to children avoid their hands, eyes, mouth and cuts or irritated skin. If using a spray, spray the repellent into your hand and then apply it to your child’s face. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
Apply sunscreen first, repellent second.
If you are also applying sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and the insect repellent second.
Use protective clothing.
Long pants and sleeves are a simple way to protect yourself. You can enhance that protection by treating clothing with permethrin.
When outdoors, drape mosquito netting over car carriers and strollers.
Keep mosquitoes out of your house.
Use screens on windows and doors and be sure to repair any holes. Use air conditioning if possible.
Keep mosquitoes out of your yard.
Once a week canvas your yard for standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Empty, turn over, cover or throw out anything that can hold water. That includes buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths, and trash containers.