The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise us to not abandon our Zika protective practices just yet. As we nestle into fall, mosquitos are still out and active in Florida. Seeing as there’s, currently, no vaccine or medication for Zika, the best way to protect yourself is through prevention.

HOW IS ZIKA CONTRACTED?

photo courtesy of clarke.com

First thing’s first. It’s important to understand how the virus spreads in order to prevent infection. The virus lives in human body fluids and secretions. The picture here illustrates the ways infected body fluids move among men, women, fetuses, and mosquitoes. The most common mode of transmission is by mosquito bite. A woman who has acquired Zika, from a mosquito or unsafe sex, can also pass the virus through the placenta to her fetus causing severe skull and brain abnormalities in the developing baby. In order to keep this from happening, men and women must protect themselves from getting and spreading the virus. If we can prevent mosquito bites and unsafe sex, we can also prevent transmission from mother to fetus and via blood transfusions – 4 birds, 2 stones so to speak. And here’s how it’s done.

MOSQUITO CONTROL

To keep the number of mosquitos and, thus, the chance of mosquito bites low, mosquitos need to be controlled outside and inside the home. To control mosquitos outside the home, get rid of standing water where mosquitos like to lay eggs. For example, cover pools, empty buckets of water, and drain gutters. Outdoor insecticides and other products can be purchased to target larvae. To keep mosquitos from getting inside the home, keep doors and windows closed. Installing screens on doors and windows will also keep many bugs out. If there are rips or holes in the screen, have them repaired. The CDC also recommends the use of bed nets, which are treated with bug repellent.

BITE CONTROL

Protecting yourself from bites is as simple as wearing clothes that cover the skin and using a mosquito repellent spray for added protection. Spray the repellent directly onto exposed skin, or spray the clothing of unexposed areas.

In short, continue to control mosquitos in and around the home, protect yourself from bites, and practice safe sex. For more information visit www.cdc.gov/zika.


Sources Consulted

 

Senée, On Jacksonville’s first columnist, has over a decade of public health and writing experience, and a distinct talent for translating sciency jargon into interesting, actionable prose aimed at disease prevention and health promotion. The University of South Florida Public Health graduate and Technical Writing student says, “Public Health taught me how to identify, track, control, and prevent disease. Technical Writing is teaching me how to best communicate this critical information to busy people in a meaningful way.” Senée’s public health background touches every corner of Jacksonville, spans across country, and reaches all the way to the village of Molepolole in Africa. Through independent study and travel, she has acquired several languages and experienced many differing cultural perspectives on global health topics. Her world-rounded touch comes home to On Jacksonville, where she ‘slings font’ weekly for the Community Health blog.