By, Orlando Mota, MD
If you follow the news, or even social media, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the Zika virus. Zika is a viral infection transmitted by mosquito bites, from pregnant women to fetus, and through sex.
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetal brain birth defects, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. However many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
The Florida Health department recently identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by Mosquitos. I remember a patient telling me that “Mosquito is the Florida State bird,” so I wanted to share some information from the CDC and HealthyChildren.org on how to prevent Mosquito bites.
Use EPA-registered insect repellents.
Using an insect repellent is key in preventing mosquito bites, and thus preventing the spread of the Zika virus. An EPA-registered repellent is highly recommended do to the fact that before a repellent can be marketed, most skin-applied repellents must be registered by EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). EPA registration of skin-applied repellent products indicates that they have been evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label. [https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/regulation-skin-applied-repellents] The effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents in not well known, including some natural repellents.
- Always follow the label instructions.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon, eucalyptus (OLE), or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years of age.
Protect your baby or child.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home
- Use screens on windows and doors.
- Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitos outside
- Use air conditioning when available.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water
If you or child are experiencing symptoms, please contact your doctor. If you are pregnant, please contact your OBGYN.
For more information regarding the Zika virus and how you can prevent it, please visit www.CDC.gov.