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What can you do to protect yourself against the Zika virus?

Protecting yourself from the Zika virus

 

What is the Zika virus?

 

The Zika virus is a kind of disease bringing virus that is similar to dengue and chikungunya viruses, and likewise as these other viruses it is mostly and principally spread by certain species of mosquitoes when they bite you. Although Zika is a disease with mild symptoms that usually last for only a few days, like a rash in certain parts of your body, a relatively mild fever, some joint pain, and maybe conjunctivitis (red eyes), and it is even also possible to have been infected and not present any of these symptoms, yet the real danger of this disease presents itself when a pregnant woman gets infected, as a connection has been found between Zika infected pregnant women and microcephaly (smaller than normal brain size) in their newborns. Zika, unlike other mosquito borne viruses, can apparently also be transmitted through sexual contact between a Zika infected man and his female partner.

 

How do you prevent getting infected with Zika?

 

Since the main transmission methods are mosquitoes, and also since there are no known vaccines to the virus, the way to protect yourself from getting infected with the Zika virus is to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes in general, specially if you are living or staying within an area that is known to have ongoing Zika infections. There are a few well known strategies and methods to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and they can be combined in order to achieve maximum success at avoiding bites. The first and simplest method is to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors or while in areas where mosquitoes thrive. Also by staying in air conditioned areas, or rooms protected with mosquito screens on all windows and doors, most mosquito bites can be avoided. If you are sleeping outdoors or in a place without proper mosquito screening then sleeping under a mosquito netting will be your best option. If this isn’t possible, or while staying outdoors, then you should be using some form of approved mosquito repellant on your clothes and exposed skin areas or also on the bed sheets if possible. Buying and using permethrin (which is an effective kind of insecticide against mosquitoes) treated clothing and other gear may also be something to consider, or maybe treating clothes and gear yourself with permethrin.

 

Taking steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in or close to your home is also a way to prevent Zika and other mosquito borne infections. Eliminating stagnant pools of water, or getting rid of places or objects where rain water could be pooling and where mosquitoes could be breeding, for example, is a smart move. Any other steps taken to control mosquito populations in and around your house would be advisable as well, and a quick web search will show you quite a few ways to help you on that issue.

 

Another thing to avoid getting infected with Zika virus in the case of sexual intercourse with a man that has been infected by Zika virus in the previous few weeks, is to use a condom in any case of vaginal, anal or oral sex with them.

 

Something that smart and responsible people should do if infected with Zika virus, is to also avoid being bitten by mosquitoes for a few weeks after the infection onset in order to avoid infecting other mosquitoes with the virus and in this way helping to avoid the spread of the disease.

 

Daniel Barsa

This document is licensed for commercial use with modification.

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