3 important steps to ward off mosquitos…and infections!
Have you been enjoying the outdoors this summer? At some point, it’s likely you’ve come into contact with those pesky mosquitoes which can cause irritating and itchy bites that can last several days.
Mosquitos can carry and spread various diseases and infections. Now, the newest virus mosquitos can spread is the Zika virus. Zika virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the whites of the eyes. Unborn children infected with the virus can have birth defects.
Recently, the epidemic has led to 19 travel associated cases and 100 locally acquired cases of the Zika virus in southern Florida. Pregnant women and children should be especially careful if they live in areas with Zika cases. If you are pregnant or have children, follow the special guidelines on the Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s (CDC) website.
As a general rule, the CDC provides suggestions for protecting yourself against mosquito bites and the Zika virus, both of which can make a fun season rather uncomfortable.
Here are three simple steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites:
One way to lessen the risk of mosquito bites, and thus infection, is to wear insect repellent. Purchase an EPA-registered insect spray with at least 20% DEET. Look for repellents with higher percentages of active ingredients because they protect longer. Some natural alternatives include lemon eucalyptus or para-methane-diol (PMD). However, make sure to reapply frequently throughout the day.
Remember to apply sunscreen first, let it dry, and then spray or lather on the bug repellent. Try to avoid using products that contain both sunscreen and bug repellent because they aren’t as effective.
2. Cover up
The CDC advises everyone to cover up any exposed skin whenever you’re outside. Covering up bare skin can greatly decrease the chances of being bit by bugs. Wear tightly-woven, long-sleeved shirts and pants, socks, and hats. For maximum protection, tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.
3. Protect yourself at home
One great way to avoid being bitten is to proof your home from bugs. Stay in environments that are air-conditioned and make sure you have window and door screens that can properly keep out mosquitoes. If you have the ability to purchase area repellents, it’s a good option to invest in candles and mosquito coils. Each week, make sure to check and clean any items that hold water. You may want to scrub or dump out old buckets, planters, trashcans, and even toys to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from laying their eggs inside of them. If you have children, you may want to also consider purchasing a bed net to protect your family while they sleep.
Remember that it’s likely you’ll get mosquito bites at some point, but following these tips will help decrease the chances of you getting infected with the Zika virus and numerous, irritating bites.
We hope these reminders are helpful and let you enjoy the end of the summer more!
Harris Casel provides health and wellness articles and student tips in its weekly blog. We offer six healthcare training programs at our campus in Melbourne, Florida. If you’d like more information on our services or programs, contact us at a time most convenient for you! We look forward to speaking with you!