New York recently reported its first Zika related birth defect, microcephaly. With the Rio Olympics looming, could it be the trigger for a global pandemic of Zika?
Malaysia is still dealing with dengue, a virus borne by the same mosquito that carries the Zika virus. Despite the decades of experience with dengue, we are no where near in achieving the ability to control the spread of this infection. So clearly, if Zika were to arrive on our shores, it will certainly be difficult to eradicate.
Taking precautions is important and is outlined below but clearly it will still pose a clear and present danger. Could the Rio Olympics be the trigger to a faster spread of this virus?
We can only wait and see.
What can travelers do to prevent Zika?
There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
- Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than 2 months. (OLE should not be used on children younger than 3 years.)
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.