How to Protect Yourself Against Mosquitoes and Zika

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The Zika virus has popped up in Alabama, although you can’t blame mosquitoes yet. The pests spread the disease but so far the only cases in the state are from people who have traveled to Zika-infected areas. As of the end of May, Central and South America plus some islands in the South Pacific have seen outbreaks.

Zika virus is rarely severe or deadly. Only 1 in 5 people who get infected become sick with symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache that last for several days to a week. Zika is a major concern for pregnant women as it’s been linked to the serious birth defect microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

Public health officials recommend pregnant women don’t travel to Zika-infected areas. But they’re also offering tips to fight mosquitoes, which spread a number of diseases.

Many of the recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health are aimed at reducing standing water where mosquitoes breed.

  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers or trash containers.
  • Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
  • Fill in holes or depressions in your yard where water tends to collect.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and keep drains and gutters unclogged so that water does not collect in these areas.
  • Install or repair and use window and door screens. Do not leave doors propped open.
  • Keep weeds, vines, hedges and grass trimmed since mosquitoes use these shady areas as resting places during hot daylight hours.

If you do have to be outside, ADPH has further tips to prevent mosquito bites.

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes to retain less heat, making you less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Spray clothing with repellants containing premethrin or DEET (diethyl toluamide).
  • Apply inspect repellent sparingly on skin, avoiding the eyes, lips and nasal membranes.
  • Always follow label instructions when applying repellents.

Photo by naturegirl 78