The Zika outbreak is getting worse, but there are ways to protect yourself.
Worried about the Zika virus this summer as you go outdoors? There may be some relatively simple ways to avoid it.
For one thing, make sure you travel smart. The CDC has issued a number of travel warnings covering dozens of countries in the Zika virus outbreak. That covers most of the Caribbean, Central, and South America. You can find more information on the CDC’s Zika virus page.
While you don’t have to completely avoid these countries, you should stay indoors behind screens or windows, especially during the day as mosquitoes are at their most active. Sleep under a mosquito net at night.
Wearing the right clothes can go a long way toward avoiding bites. It may not be comfortable to wear long clothes in tropical environments, but covering as much skin as possible is a big part of avoiding bites. Try wearing layered, loose clothing to keep yourself a little more comfortable. Also, wear light-colored clothes, as mosquitoes prefer darker colors.
Make sure you purchase bug sprays that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Don’t use “natural” repellants that might smell nice but don’t do much to keep away mosquitoes.
And it’s not all about protecting yourself from mosquitoes. Zika is spread through sexual contact as well, so practice safe sex with your partner.
“Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito,” the CDC says in a statement. “The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.”