How to avoid catching the Zika Virus

There are no vaccines or quick treatments available to prevent/cure the Zika Virus; the most effective way of preventing this disease is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. Below are several steps to take to prevent being bitten by a Zika Virus infected mosquito.

  • Pick the right insect repellent – The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommends products with active ingredients DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or IR 3535. However The CDC does not recommend non-registered repellents such as citronella oil, cedar oil, geranium oil, peppermint and peppermint oil, “pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus and soybean oil. DEET is measured in concentrations (e.g 50% DEET), the lower the concentration, the less effective the level deterrent. DEET with a higher concentration that 30% should not be used on children.  By wearing a strong and effective insect repellent the chances of getting bitten by a Zika Virus infected mosquito are dramatically reduced.
  • Applying the insect repellent correctly – Insect repellent should be applied after the application of sun screen and be applied on top of clothes rather than underneath. Insect repellent should also not be sprayed directly on to cuts or wounds. It is important that all body parts are covered with repellent including ankles and feet- this is particularly important as mosquitos that carry the Zika Virus are known to be attracted to feet. 
  • Repel mosquitos with clothing – In order to further repel mosquito’s long sleeved tops and long trousers should be worn, extra protection can also be gained from wearing clothing containing permethrin, a synthetic insecticide.
  • Exercise indoors– Mosquitos are attracted to Carbon Dioxide and heat which are both naturally emitted from the body in increased amounts upon exercising.
  • Travel Smart – The best way to avoid Zika virus is to avoid travelling to affected areas. If you are required to travel to an affected country, stay in air-conditioned areas, sleep under bed nets if your room may have mosquitoes, and use mosquito repellent religiously.

These tips are intended as general health advice and should not be used in replacement for visiting a doctor.

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