3 Tips to Stay Safe From Zika Virus

Spend less time worrying about health concerns like the Zika virus and keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay with our three-step plan. 

Zika Protection Young Boy Sprays Orange Bottle Bug Repellant
Photo: Bignai/Shutterstock

1. Use the Right Repellent

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends products with DEET, which protects against Zika as well as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Children ages 2 months and older can safely use a repellent containing 5 to 7 percent DEET. There’s no reason for a child to use a ‘Deep Woods,’ eight-hour formula, which has 25 percent DEET. If you’re in a low-risk area, you can use a product that contains 5 percent DEET or less.

Spray a repellent onto your hands, then rub it onto your child’s skin, being careful to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth. (Never apply repellent on her hands, which may end up in her eyes and mouth.)

2. Dress Wisely

In the evenings or when there are a lot of mosquitoes around, cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and socks. Breathable fabrics with a tight weave—like the quick-dry materials used in high-performance athletic wear—are difficult for mosquitoes to penetrate.

In particularly high-risk areas, you may want to pick garments that are pretreated with the insecticide permethrin. “When a mosquito lands on this kind of clothing, it will fly off and then die,” says Jonathan F. Day, Ph.D., professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.

3. Safeguard Your Yard

“If you have a semi-enclosed patio or pool area with two or three walls, then a mosquito lantern that releases permethrin can be effective,” says Dr. Day. Don’t bother with citronella candles, torches, and lanterns; even the slightest breeze blows the active ingredient away.

For open areas, rely on wind power. Set out a big box fan. Says Dr. Day, “Once the air speed reaches more than 1 mile per hour, mosquitoes have a difficult time flying.”

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