Zika, Mosquito Safety, and You
Anita Reecer, Infection Preventionist - August 12, 2016
You have seen Zika in the news! Cases of Zika are starting to be found in the US. Zika is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. Learn more about Zika and risks during pregnancy.

Zika is only one of many diseases spread by the bite of a mosquito. Other mosquito borne diseases include  Dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile Virus. You can find out more about each of these diseases on the Centers for Disease Control web site. 

To prevent the spread of such diseases, it is important to avoid mosquito bites.There are several practical ways you can protect yourself and your family.
  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent with one of these active ingredients: 
Deet Off, Cutter, Sawyer and Ultrathon
Picaridin also known as (KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and Icaridin) Cuter Advanced and  Skin so Soft Bug Guard plus 
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or Para-menthane-diol (PMD) Repel
IR3535 Skin so Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition, SkinSmart
  • Dress in clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Use mosquito netting as a barrier.
  • Treat items such at boots, pants, socks, and tents with permethrin or purchase permethrin treated clothing and gear.
  • Mosquito proof your home by using screens on doors and windows and use air conditioning when available.  
  • Remove mosquito breeding sites by clearing your yard of standing water.  Once a week, empty, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers.

My grandmother always said,"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Protecting against mosquito bites will prevent the spread of disease!