The summer of 2016 will be remembered as one where mosquito-borne illnesses grabbed headlines, causing people to alter vacation plans. The native appearance of the Zika virus in Florida, where a few cases were reported, and in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, drew a lot of media attention.
Even though Zika isn't dominating the headlines as often now, it's still smart to take precautions regarding mosquitos. We at MosquitoNix® have compiled a list of Zika virus safety guidelines aimed at helping you reduce the chances of contracting this dangerous mosquito-borne illness.
During 2016, Zika infected mosquitos were found in both Florida and Texas. Although the Zika virus was no longer considered an emergency in the United States and Puerto Rico in the early summer of 2017, contracting Zika remains a possibility going forward.
The reality of the situation is that Zika now is just part of the risk of traveling to tropical climates. According to the CDC, areas where mosquitos infected with Zika could exist include most of South America and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Texas and Florida. Areas of Africa near the equator and areas in Asia near the Indian Ocean also have the possibility of seeing mosquitos carrying Zika. If you are planning to travel to areas where Zika is a possibility, take steps to protect yourself against mosquito bites.
Insect Repellant: The best way to protect against mosquito bites is through the use of insect repellant. A DEET-based repellant is the best option for repelling the species of mosquitos that most often carries Zika - the Aedes aegypti mosquito - versus using a repellant with natural plant oils. Follow the directions on any brand of insect repellant you pick to ensure that you're using it properly and safely. Additionally, some types of repellants are not safe for children to use, so make sure you read the directions closely.
Protective Clothing: Protecting your skin with long clothing is another good way to avoid bites from mosquitos. Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to reduce the amount of skin you have exposed, which will make it more difficult for mosquitos to bite you. We understand that wearing long clothing in warm, tropical environments isn't something you want to do. However, there are plenty of clothing designs that are lightweight and airy that will keep you protected from mosquitos while staying cool. Some clothing even contains mosquito repellant to provide additional protection.
Standing Water: Stagnant and standing water serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos, which means the mosquito population will be higher in these areas. Even small puddles of standing water, such as a bird bath, can provide an area for a female mosquito to lay eggs. When traveling, you may not be able to empty containers with standing water because they don't belong to you. So in these cases, you should try to stay out of areas where there's a lot of standing water.
Zika presents the most danger to pregnant women, as they can pass the Zika virus to their fetuses. Babies who contract Zika virus while in utero could suffer from birth and brain defects that greatly shorten their lives. Because no vaccine exists to protect people from Zika, following the steps we listed above to protect yourself from mosquito bites is the best option. And to protect yourself at home, consider spraying and fogging products from MosquitoNix.