Stay informed about Zika and protect yourself from bug bites naturally.
There is much panic, speculation and the spread of misinformation regarding the Zika virus. Our best bet for fighting the disease is staying calm and informed and taking all preventative measures from keeping you and your loved ones safe from not only Zika but all mosquito borne illnesses. Below are some facts about Zika to help you understand the disease and what can be done to prevent it.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection are usually mild. Eighty percent of people who become infected never have symptoms. In those who do, the most common Zika virus symptoms are fever and rash; it can also cause muscle and joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and conjunctivitis (itchy, red eyes), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Health experts at the WHO Regional Office for the Americas note that symptoms generally last two to seven days. No effective treatment is available for Zika infection, but over-the-counter fever or pain medication can be helpful for symptom relief.
The Zika virus is carried by mosquitoes and people, but usually spread by mosquitoes. Zika is an RNA virus related to the West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue viruses, and caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. These viral diseases have mosquitoes as their vector — the bug or organism that transmits an infection — and are generally not passed from person to person, explains Peter Jay Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Zika began in Africa and spread rapidly. The virus, originally named ZIKV, was first discovered in 1947 in a rhesus macaque in the Zika forest in Uganda. Researchers there found that it lived in mosquitoes, and they learned through experimentation that it could also infect mice.
Outbreaks were reported from 1951 to 1981 throughout Africa and Asia, and in 2007 in Polynesia where 73 percent of the population was infected. But since the first cases were discovered in Latin America in 2014, the virus has quickly spread. In December 2015, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) recommended Latin American countries start gearing up to screen for Zika.
Travelers probably won’t bring infected mosquitoes along with them. “It’s extremely unlikely that mosquitoes would be carried back to the United States by citizens traveling abroad,” says Jim Fredericks, PhD, chief entomologist and vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the nonprofit National Pest Management Association in Fairfax, Virginia. “As adults, mosquitoes are a relatively fragile insect that doesn’t travel very well. In addition, since only a fraction of the total mosquito population in Zika-endemic areas carries the virus, it’s even less likely for an infective mosquito to be brought back alive,” he says. The bigger concern is that a person infected with the virus could pass it along to local mosquito populations.
You can help prevent Zika infection by using insect repellents. Travelers going to areas with current Zika outbreaks can take steps to avoid catching the virus. One way to avoid mosquito bites is to use a repellent containing oil of eucalyptus, citronella and trea tree oil like Bug O% or Baby Bug O% when venturing outdoors, especially near dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Make sure there is no stagnant water in the vicinity which can act as breeding grounds for mosquitos. Sleeping under a mosquito net helps to reduce the chances of getting bitten at night. Candles and diffusers containing bug repellents are a great way to keep mosquitos at distance which can be found HERE.
Mosquito control can help prevent Zika. Controlling the insect vector by cutting down on mosquito breeding is one way to prevent spread of this and other mosquito-borne viruses. Breeding sites include water-filled habitats like plant containers and toilets inside the home, and puddles, birdbaths, and pooled water outdoors.