The Zika virus, aka the rotten step-brother of yellow fever, has now spread to at least 25 countries and shows no signs of slowing down.
The WHO warns that the outbreak is “likely to spread across Americas.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health concurs stating, “a pandemic in progress…it isn’t as if it’s turning around and dying out, it’s getting worse and worse as the days go by.”
There currently exists no vaccine or cure for the virus. So, how can you protect you and/or your family from Zika?
The only sure-fire protection is to completely avoid travel to areas with known infestations. The CDC advises that if you do travel to areas where Zika is prevalent, strict mosquito protection measures should be adhered to.
According to the cdc.gov website these steps should be taken:
- Use insect repellents
- When used as directed, insect repellents are safe and effective for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women.
- Most insect repellents can be used on children. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus in children under the age of three years.
- Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
- If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
- Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.
- When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
If you have Zika, protect others from getting sick
- During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
- To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.
Photo by John Tann licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. The original photo was modified.