Zika virus continues to be a growing concern across the world and with recent reports of cases of the virus contracted in southern Florida, patients are wondering how they might be able to protect themselves. Zika will most likely be a much lower risk for us up here in New England, but insect borne illness is always something to be wary of. What’s driving a lot of fear about mosquito bites this year is the constant coverage on Zika, but Zika is not the only virus they spread and there are even more dangerous ones we need to make ourselves aware of.
Prevent exposure – What attracts mosquitoes to some and not others? Studies show that mosquitoes find you as targets more easily by:
- Carbon Dioxide:the more you exhale the easier you are to find (so if you are a large person, pregnant or exercising you are more at risk);
- Body Heat:the more you move around the more heat you create (so good idea to layoff exercising outside in the summer months- it’s still great to get your workouts in indoors);
- Alcohol:may cause your skin to emit a chemical that could attract mosquitoes; but more realistically, it can also increase your body heat which is certainly a magnet;
- Sweat:mosquitoes love moisture so perspiration makes for the perfect target;
- Genes:(thanks mom and dad) not much you can do about the scent your body gives off through sweat but certain skin secretions can cause an attraction – It was recently refuted that mosquitoes are attracted to certain blood types – so cross that off your worry list!
Also, be aware of the “Four Ds” as a first line of defense. They are:
— Drain: Empty standing water, thus eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
— Dress: Put on long sleeved shirts and pants when going outside.
— Defend: Apply mosquito repellent when going outside.
— Dusk and Dawn: Avoid outdoor activity during these two most mosquito-active periods.
People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
Click here for more information from the CDC about protecting yourself and your loved ones from Zika. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/
And if you are planning a trip in the near future, make sure that you are well-informed about the risks for the areas that you are traveling to. And call your healthcare provider if you have questions regarding your health and safety.