Mosquito repellent can help guard against Zika virus

Mosquito repellent can help guard against Zika virus

The Zika virus has begun to appear in the United States through travelers visiting or returning from countries experiencing outbreaks of the virus. Those planning to travel to areas affected by the virus, especially pregnant women, should take note of the travel notices issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and take appropriate precautions.

The Zika virus is spread primarily when a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, according to the CDC. A new study suggests using OFF!® Clip-On Mosquito Repellent to help keep those bugs away.

The product was tested against Aedes aegypti mosquitos, the same species carrying the Zika virus, by researchers at the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in Florida. They found that it “caused high mosquito mortality and knockdown rates up to 0.3 meters from the device,” according to a news release.

“Since a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus does not yet exist, alternative forms of prevention are of utmost importance,” says Dr. James Malow, an infectious disease specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “If you’re going to be in an area where you’re at risk for Zika, it’s a good idea to use mosquito repellent. The mosquitos that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters but may also bite at night.”

Dr. Malow advises following the CDC’s repellant recommendations until more is known about the effectiveness of this particular product. He also cautions that using repellent does not guarantee safety from infected mosquitos.

To minimize your risk, Dr. Malow also recommends dressing in pants and long sleeves when in an affected area.

If you are already infected, Dr. Malow says you should do your best to avoid mosquito bites for at least a week, even if you’ve moved to a safe area. This will help to avoid the potential spread of the virus from person-to-mosquito.

“While mosquitos in the U.S. are not currently infecting people with this virus, it’s important to note that mosquitos who bite infected people can then become infected themselves,” adds Dr. Malow. “This mosquito could subsequently infect anyone else it bites afterward.”

The CDC lists fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headache as common symptoms of Zika. See your physician if you experience these conditions, especially if you’ve recently traveled to an area experiencing outbreaks.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.