Talk of the Zika virus has been popping up in the news everywhere, so what are the facts about this virus and how can we protect ourselves? The Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Although symptoms may be mild (fever, body aches, and rash) and resolve within a week, the main concern is with pregnant women, as this virus may result in serious birth defects for the infant. So far in the US, all of the people who have had the virus contracted the disease while traveling outside of the country. However, it is expected that the virus will spread into the US this summer, starting in the southern states.
What can I do to protect myself?
There is currently no vaccine against the Zika virus, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Minimize exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible by staying indoors or covering up during the early morning and late evening hours, which is when mosquitoes are most active. Avoid using scented soaps and lotions as these can attract mosquitoes. Use screening on windows and patios to help prevent mosquitoes from getting inside the home. Finally, use insect repellent correctly to keep mosquitoes away from you.
How to choose the best repellent?
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends the use of an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered repellent as it is proven to be both safe and effective in both adults and children. These products will contain ingredients such as DEET, IR3535, Picaridin, and lemon eucalyptus oil. It is important to carefully read the label as all products are different and may vary in concentration, duration of protection, and age restrictions. All FDA approved repellants have been found to be safe for use during pregnancy, according to the CDC.
Tips on using insect repellent correctly:
- Repellents should never be used on broken or damaged skin.
- Avoid exposure to the eyes and mouth. Spray the repellent onto the hands then apply to the face. Never spray directly onto the face.
- Reapply repellents if needed as some will only provide protection for a few hours. Make sure young children are supervised around repellents as they have a potential to be dangerous if not used correctly.
- If repellents are not recommended for your youngest children, you can still protect them from mosquitoes by placing mosquito netting over their carriers or strollers.
Topeka Pharmacy hopes you have a fun summer and enjoy your time outdoors!