Disease control is a priority in achieving optimal health. It is said that “prevention is better than cure”. It applies for every disease. Somehow, it is very difficult to prevent disease when you go about your daily activities. Even if it is, you should take responsibility for your health and the health of your family. One of the diseases you should keep an eye out for is the Zika viral infection. It may seem harmless, but complications may happen if you are not careful.
What Do We Know About Zika?
Zika is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito. Many areas still have Zika virus infections still happen. Here are some of the things many people already know about Zika:
- There is no vaccine for the Zika virus
- It s best avoided by preventing mosquito bites
- The vector mosquitoes are day biting mosquitoes
- The vector mosquitoes also spread the chikungunya and dengue diseases
- Zika can be spread through sex by having intercourse with an infected man.
Preventing Mosquito Bites
If you intend to go to a country that has active Zika infections, you should consider observing the following:
- Stay in air-conditioned places, where the doors and windows are equipped with screens, which keep mosquitoes outside.
- Always wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Sleep under a mosquito net if you are camping or staying overseas.
Use mosquito repellents that are EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)-registered insect repellents with these ingredients:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus
As long as you follow the proper directions, these repellents are safe to use on lactating and pregnant women. Just take note of the following:
1.In using the repellent:
- Make sure you follow the instructions
- Never spray the repellent under your clothing or on your skin
- Reapply insect repellent according to instructions
- Apply your sunscreen before you apply the insect repellent
2.In protecting a child from mosquitoes:
- Dress your child in long pants and long sleeved shirts
- Do not use mosquito repellents on infants below 2 months old
- Do not use repellents having para-menthane-diol or lemon eucalyptus on children below 3 years of age
- Do not apply the repellent on a child’s irritated skin, cut skin, hands, mouth, and eyes
- Cover the baby stroller, baby carrier, and crib with mosquito nets
*** Adults should spray insect repellents on a child’s face or on your hands
3.In treating gear and clothing with permethrin or purchasing permethrin-treated items:
- Follow the instructions very carefully if you are treating certain items by yourself.
- Remember that permethrin is formulated to treat clothing and not your skin.
- The treated pieces of clothing remain protective against the mosquitoes even after several washings. Read the product labels to learn about the length of protection.
Even if the traveler does not feel sick at all, they should take steps in preventing mosquito bites for up to three weeks. They should do so if they are returning to the United States. Here are some of the preventive measures they should observe so that they could prevent themselves from spreading the Zika virus:
1.If you are infected and you want to protect others from getting the Zika virus:
- Prevent mosquito bites during the first week of infection
- During the first week, Zika can be detected in the blood. This can be passed from one infected person to another mosquito through a series of mosquito bites.
- When you have sex with an infected man, you should use condoms from beginning to end. This should be done each time you have sex, whether it be oral, vaginal, or anal. Abstaining from the sexual act is the only way to be certain that Zika infection is genuinely prevented.
*** Zika stays longer in semen than in the bloodstream. Exact duration is still not established.
2.If you are worried to get Zika from your male sex partner.
Preventing Zika during sex involves using condoms and abstaining from having sex. If you know that your male sex partner traveled to a Zika infected area, you should tell your doctor immediately.
3.If you are a male resident or a traveler in an area with cases of Zika.
Your pregnant partner should be protected by your use of condoms from beginning to end. The sexual acts include vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It is always best to encourage sexual abstinence during pregnancy.
What you Should Do if You are Pregnant
Zika is very detrimental to the fetus. If you are pregnant, you should observe preventive measures in protecting yourself and ultimately, your child from Zika. How will you be able to protect yourself if you plan to travel to an area infected by Zika?
1.Avoid traveling to areas with Zika. CDC does recommend certain precautions for pregnant women. It is mandatory for pregnant women not to travel to areas with Zika cases. You should talk to your doctor first if you really need to go to the Zika affected areas. You should also follow the mosquito bite prevention steps all throughout the trip.
2.Talk to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor with regard to your partner, if he has traveled o areas with Zika lately. Tell your doctor how long your partner stayed in that place, if he followed steps in preventing mosquito bites, or if he used condoms during sex with him when he arrived. See your doctor immediately if you develop rashes, red eyes, fever, and joint pain.
3.Prevent mosquito bites. Make sure to wear long pants and long sleeves. Stay away from or remove breeding places for mosquitoes (containers with stagnant water). Use repellents that are registered in the Environmental Protection Agency. Stay in air conditioned places protected by screens.
Specific Steps in Keeping Zika Vector Mosquitoes Away
Avoiding the bite of the Zika mosquito is an effective way to prevent contracting the Zika virus. Take note that the Aedes species of mosquito that transmits chikungunya and dengue is the same species that transmits the Zika virus.
No vaccines or established treatments exist for Zika infections. It may have mild symptoms for any infected person, but it is responsible for many cases of birth defects. The best way to avoid Zika is to avoid being bitten. The following are some of the steps in keeping that Zika mosquito away:
1.Choose the right repellent. The Center for Disease Control highly recommends repellents with IR 3535, DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET is the said standard ingredient. Products with DEET made it to the shelves of stores in the year 1957. Early concerns with regard to its safety were expressed. It has been thought to be linked to neurological problems. Yet in a study conducted in 2014, it was proven that DEET showed no signs of negative side effects. The Zika virus is known to be a cause of microcephaly (a condition born with a smaller than normal head). The CDC does not advise the use of repellents that have “pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella oil, geranium oil, cedar oil, peppermint oil, soybean oil, and peppermint.
2.Apply the repellent correctly. Always apply your repellent after applying your sunscreen. Do not wear your repellent under your clothes. It may just accumulate in the fabric and not evaporate at all. Do not spray it on any wounds or cuts. Do not forget to apply repellent on your ankles and feet. The Aedes species of mosquito has a special attraction to the feet. If you want to apply the repellent on a child’s skin, it is better to spray it on your hands first before applying it on the child’s skin. Avoid putting repellent on the child’s mouth and eyes. Use it sparingly around the ear area. Refrain from using repellents with 30% and above concentration of DEET. Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children below 3 years old or on infants younger than 2 months old. They should just be protected with mosquito nets.
3.Wear the right clothes. Long pants and long sleeves are basic pieces of clothing that protect against mosquito bites. Extra protection is achieved by wearing clothes treated with permethrin (synthetic insecticide). Permethrin products are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to be safe and effective for children and pregnant women. It is known that the Aedes mosquitoes are attracted to feet. It is wise to wear socks and shoes that have full coverage. Yoga pants are not ideal because the mosquitoes can bite through spandex. Baggy clothes offer a more efficient protection. For your head, just wear a hat and sunglasses.
4.Prepare your living environment. Cold winters make the mosquitoes go into hibernation. When the temperatures go up to fifty or sixty degrees Fahrenheit, the mosquitoes wake up and spread Zika again. The Aedes species bite during the day. They even go inside homes for shade. They live and breed close to where people are. A mere tablespoon of stagnant water is enough to be a breeding ground for them. In one breeding, they can produce up to 300 new mosquitoes. You should learn how to eliminate stagnant water in and around your home to prevent Zika from.
5.Perform your exercises indoors. You attract mosquitoes whenever you exercise because of the heat and carbon dioxide you produce. It is best for you to just exercise indoors. Turn up the music while you work out.
6.Be smart when you travel. If you are planning on taking a vacation, avoid the specified areas affected by Zika. CDC has an updated list of these countries. This way, you can prevent acquiring the Zika virus in the place you want to visit. If you have no choice but to go to any of the affected places, make sure you bring the EPA-approved repellent and use it properly. Protect your bed with mosquito nets and stay in air conditioned rooms, protected by screens.
Is Permethrin Effective?
Permethrin is a medication used to treat scabies, but it is also used as an effective deterrent for Zika mosquitoes.
According to the journal written by Adam Hendy, Salvador A. Gezan, James Orsborne, Annelies Wilder-Smith, Sarah DeRaedt Banks, Harparkash Kaur, James G. Logan, and Steve W. Lindsay, the permethrin-treated clothes gave some degree of protection against mosquito biting. The trousers and long sleeved shirts that were treated provided the best form of protection from the Zika mosquito bite. Their study also showed that if the treated clothes were washed extensively, the protection is reduced. Ultimately, field trials are still needed to see if the treated clothing can absolutely protect people from Zika or dengue mosquito bites.
What is DEET?
DEET (diethyltoluamide) is an effective insect repellent used in products to keep insect bites away. It can repel small flying insects, mosquitoes, fleas, and biting flies. DEET has a faint odor; isn’t water soluble; and is colorless. It was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect their soldiers in areas infected by insects. Since 1957, repellents that contain DEET have been used by consumers in the United States.
DEET is used in the manufacture of repellents in the form of sticks, liquid sprays, and lotions. An estimate of about 30% of Americans uses more than one product that contains DEET on an annual basis.
Experts still do not know the exact manner by which DEET affects all insects. Some insects sense various chemicals in your breath or from your skin. The insects that have been exposed to DEET are unable to locate any animal or person. DEET somehow messes up their ability to detect their potential hosts.
Be responsible and prevent the Zika virus from affecting your life and the lives of your loved ones. Follow the given guidelines, so that the Zika mosquito won’t even get the chance to get a whiff of you. It is always wise to talk to your doctor, especially when you plan to travel to Zika affected areas or if you have a Zika infected partner. It is true that the symptoms of the Zika virus are mild and doesn’t usually result in hospitalization. But if you happen to be pregnant or if you are planning to be pregnant, it is better to avoid or prevent. You wouldn’t want your child to suffer the consequences, wouldn’t you?