Should I Be Worried About the Zika Virus?

Publication date : Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Many people have been asking about the Zika virus and whether or not they need to be worried about the health of their family. The Zika virus is a virus that is rapidly spreading through several Latin American and Caribbean communities, and it’s caused the World Health Organization to declare an international health emergency. The virus is transmitted through certain species of mosquitoes, which are the same species responsible for yellow fever and dengue.

Currently, there are no reports of active infection here in the U.S., but the fast spreading of the virus has people rightfully concerned. Especially as we head into the spring and summer seasons when people will be opening their pools, rainfall totals will increase and mosquito activity will strengthen – it’s natural to be worried! Here’s what you need to know about protecting your family this season.

Tips for Preventing Breeding

The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, so it’s important to limit their breeding and prevent human exposure. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and unchlorinated pools and water storage tanks. Eliminate standing water in flower pots, buckets, barrels, old tires, etc. Also ensure good drainage around homes.

If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, make sure that it is properly chlorinated. Mosquitoes will not breed in water that is heavily chlorinated. Also make sure that your existing pool cover doesn’t have excess water collecting on it, otherwise this could invite breeding.

Tips for Keeping Mosquitoes Out of the Home

If you take away areas for mosquitoes to breed, you will have less of a problem right off the bat. Encourage your neighbors to do the same so that their problem with standing water doesn’t become yours.

To keep mosquitoes and other insects out of the home, inspect and repair window and door screens. Mosquitoes can get through the tiniest holes, so replace any broken, worn or torn screens with fresh ones.

Tips for Preventing Bites

As the weather warms up, it’s only natural to want to spend more time outdoors, enjoying your pool or hiking through the woods. Apply an insect repellent to your skin and clothing, ideally one that contains DEET or picaridin. You can also try products that use lemon eucalyptus oil if you want something more natural.

Fans and natural breezes keep air circulating around your body, which also lowers the risk of being bitten. Consider having fans on your patio when you’re sitting outdoors, or at least get up to move around. Fire can also keep mosquitoes at bay, so consider installing tiki torches around your pool, burning citronella candles, lighting a bonfire, etc.

To keep updated on the Zika virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.