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Zika Prevention: How To Avoid Mosquito Bites

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As Zika virus is caused by bites of infected mosquitoes, members of the public have been increasingly concerned about avoiding mosquito bites as part of Zika prevention strategies.

Zika virus has caught global attention. Confirmed cases are growing by the minute, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Infected individuals experience fever, joint pains, rashes and red, infected eyes, among others. The illness usually lasts for several days to weeks only. The extent of the disease is commonly mild, and severe forms that require hospitalizations are rare.

The growing concern springs from its alleged effects on pregnant women and their babies. Records have shown more pregnant women infected by Zika deliver babies with birth defects, the most common of which is microcephaly or the condition in which babies have smaller than normal heads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more studies and researches are lined up to learn more about the disease, particularly its link to pregnant women and newborn congenital defects. Until more is known and facts are established, the CDC stands firm in its special Zika precautionary measures for pregnant women and women trying to be pregnant.

Zika virus has also been linked to a rare paralysis condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, making the picture a little more terrifying.

How To Prevent Mosquito Bites When Travelling

"Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy," writes the CDC.

CDC has released travel alerts for several countries known to have active Zika virus transmission. These nations include Mexico, Puerto Rixo, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Honduras, among others.

To prevent mosquito bites when travelling to these places, the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Wear long pants and tops with long sleeves.

  • As much as possible, stay inside air-conditioned rooms and indoor places with screened doors and windows.

  • In cases when staying inside through the night is impossible, sleep under a mosquito bed net.

  • Treat clothes and other wearable gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated items.

  • Apply insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Such preparations are safe and effective even for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

How To Prevent Mosquito Bites In Children And Babies

Babies and young children are among the most Zika-affected populations across different age groups. It is very important to protect them from mosquito bites to prevent severe complications, which their young bodies may not be able to handle yet.

Here are CDC's tips to prevent mosquito bites among children and babies:

  • Dress young children with clothes that are able to cover their arms and legs fully.

  • Cover their cribs, strollers and carriers with mosquito nets.

  • Do not apply insect repellents to babies who are less than 2 months in age.

  • When applying insect repellents, avoid body areas such as eyes, mouth, hands and parts where the skin has cuts, lesions or irritations.

  • The recommended way of applying insect repellents to a child's face is to spray some on an adult's hand before applying onto the skin.

As of the moment, there are no vaccines or treatments developed specifically for Zika virus yet. Therefore, prevention is the key to stay protected — the first step of which is to avoid mosquito bites.

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