Zika reinforces the importance of using insect repellent


bug spray

Related Articles

The Zika virus — which is especially dangerous for pregnant women — has been identified in at least 35 countries or territories in the Americas. Additionally, there have been more than 350 travel-related cases reported in the United States.

Now that summer is here, inevitably so are mosquitoes, so it’s important that you protect yourself from bites as best you can to keep Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases at bay.  

"There are many mosquito-borne or tick illnesses, including several viruses that cause encephalitis, West Nile and Lyme disease, that Americans can't forget about and must protect themselves from this summer," said Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Taking protective measures when going outside is the best way to stay safe."

The American College of Emergency Physicians has outlined some preventative steps you can take this summer to avoid getting bitten.


Insect repellents

  • When you are outside, use insect repellent (bug spray) that contains an EPA-registered active ingredient, such as DEET.
  • Never use DEET on infants under 2 months old, but the CDC says most insect repellents can be used on children older than 2 months.
  • Young children should not apply DEET on themselves, and adults must not apply to their hands, eyes or mouth areas or on any wounds.  Check with your child's pediatrician if you have any questions.


Proper clothing

  • Mosquitos are most active when it is darker, such as during dawn or dusk. Wear long sleeves and pants during that time or consider staying indoors during those hours.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net when you are in an "at risk" location, such as outdoors at a campsite.
  • Consider purchasing pre-treated clothing for travel.
  • Check your head, body and clothes for ticks if you've been outside, especially in wooded areas.


Prevention around the house

  • Put screens on any windows or sliding doors to keep mosquitos out.
  • Get rid of standing water near your house or in your lawn, such as puddles, flower pots, buckets, barrels and child waiting pools when they are not in use. These are mosquito breeding sites. Keep fountain waters flowing if possible and maintain clean gutters around your property.
  • Don't handle dead birds. Mosquitos become infected when they feed on infected birds. Contact your local health department for instructions on reporting and disposing of dead birds.

As always, take precautions and go to your doctor or the nearest emergency department to get checked out if you feel you have the symptoms of a medical emergency.

Click the image below to enlarge.

Click to embiggen