Zika is a virus that is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes (the Aedes species) found in many warm/tropical locations around the world. Currently, there is neither a medication for treatment nor a vaccine for the prevention of Zika virus infection.
To date, the major concern is Zika’s association with a defect of the brain called microcephaly (an abnormally small brain), as well as other birth defects, when women are infected while pregnant. As of now, there are no documented chronic illnesses when infants and children are infected after birth.
Zika can be sexually transmitted and can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika can be sexually transmitted for at least 6 months after infection. It is important to know that a high percentage of people with Zika infections are asymptomatic. Zika can be spread even if a person does not show any symptoms.
Prevention of Mosquito Bites = Prevention of Zika Infection
By taking the following measures to decrease exposure to mosquitoes, you can help prevent Zika infection.
- When travelling in areas where Zika infected mosquitoes are present, stay in places with air conditioning and keep windows and doors closed or screened.
- If a closed air-conditioned space is not available, use insecticide treated bed nets to surround sleeping areas and cribs, especially during daytime sleep. Also consider using insecticide treated netting to cover carriers and strollers when outside. Be certain to read all directions about proper use of bed nets and insecticides.
- Dress yourself and your children in clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.
- Avoid going outside during dawn and dusk, the lack of wind at these times increases the risk of mosquito bites
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents*. Below are links of recommended insect repellents**. Repellents including DEET are safe for children over 2 months of age and pregnant women.
*Do not apply insect repellent to infants under 2 months old. Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months to protect them from mosquito bites.
*Do not use Oil of Lemon eucalyptus and para-methane-diol on children under 3 years.
When applying any product to the face, spray on your hands and then to your face and the face of your child.
If you are using sunscreen and insect repellant, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second. Sunscreen is indicated for children older than 6 months of age. Reapply both often, when used together they make each other less effective and decrease the duration of protection. Avoid using combined insect repellent/sunscreen products.
- Consider pre-treating clothing and gear with Permethrin
- Permethrin is an odorless insecticide and insect repellent that you can apply to cloth items. It is safe to use and helps to protect you and your children from mosquito bites. It lasts through several washes, and is safe even for the youngest infants.
- You can either buy pre-treated clothing and insecticide treated bed nets, or you can buy the product directly and apply to clothes, pajamas, gear and bednets yourself.
- Various formulations of permethrin and permethrin-treated products are available at outdoor/camping stores such as REI, or online from www.amazon.com. Make sure to read and use according to product instructions
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/zika