Zika virus (or as some people also misspell Zyka virus) is a disease with syptoms of mild dengue fever. Infected via mosquito bites people suffer from fever, skin rash, lassitude, red eyes, headaches, joint and muscle pain. Zika dengue rarely brings diseased to hospital, though, potential complications of this arbovirus are obvious. The sequelae are connected with fetal malformations and miscarriage of pregnant women, microcephaly of newborns and auto-immune paralytic disease of adults (GBS). This article is devoted to the problems how to control mosquitoes carrying the fever and how to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites.
How to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites
In fact, there is no vaccine and preventive drug against Zika fever caused by field mosquitoes. Some researchers and local authorities in Brazil expect the inactive or non-live vaccine to occur by the end of 2016, others suppose not earlier than in two years. While the vaccine is currently being developed to confront the zika dengue, the best way to keep away from infection is to control mosquitoes outdoors, in and around houses, to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites, to delay travelling to the countries and regions with active flavivirus borne mosquitoes and avoid unsafe sexual contacts with men, who are likely to be infected.
Self protection to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites
The ways how to repel blood-sucking females in order to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites include common and well-known preventive measures.
Travellers and locals must wear hats, closed shoes with socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover exposed skin and as much of the body as possible. It is better to choose clothes of light colours. Be sure the clothes are not very tight: the looser shirts and trousers are, the better protection to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites is.
Chemical and natural repellent products
It is required to apply on clothes and skin a mosquito repellent, which contains active ingredients of:
picaridin and icaridin (1-piperidinecarboxylic acid, 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-methylpropylester) ,
DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide),
IR3535 (3-[N-acetyl-N-butyl]-aminopropionic acid ethyl ester)
permethrin (3-Phenoxybenzyl 3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate)
essential oils of lemon eucalyptus, citronella, hairy basil and others.
These products exist in various formulations, including sprays, gels, lotions, creams and hand bracelets against mosquitoes.
Mosquito repellent products are possible to use together with sunscreen formulations. It is recommended to apply sunscreen first and let it dry, then use insect repellent.
These repellents are effective when used on intact skin and clothes as directed in the product label. Reapplication of insecticides is necessary as well.
Not all repellents are intended for applying on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, mouth, eyes. Use the mosquito repellent product in accordance with the directions in the product/ package label when applying it on children skin.
It is obligatory to stay and sleep in rooms with screens on open windows and doors or with air-conditioning. Plug an anti mosquito fumigator in wall outlet, if you detect flying insects indoors.
You can also install additional personal protection, such as a bed net, if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors or when you want to read or have a rest under the open sky.
Walk with children in baby carriages and strollers covered by a mosquito net as well. Avoid bushy areas and wetlands.
Time for walk and activity outdoors
Field and forest mosquitoes of Aedes that transmit Zika virus are the only genus in the subfamily of Culicidae that are active during the daytime: in the morning after the sun rise (at dawn) and in the evening before the sun set (at dusk). You can prevent Zika virus mosquito bites by staying inside around dawn and dusk.
If you must be in the open air during those times, wear loose light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Aviod shrubby areas and near stagnant water as mosquitoes are thicker there. Remember to apply repellent regularly. You can use not only skin repellent formulations, but also insect zappers and mosquito coils.
Safe sexual contacts
Zika virus can be transmitted via sexual contact from men to their women. All people who have been infected with mosquito disease Zika and their sexual partners should practice safer sex, by using condoms correctly and consistently for at least 4 weeks after return from flavivirus infected areas to reduce the risk of onward transmission.
Food preferences to prevent Zika virus mosquito bites
Scientists noticed that some people are highly attractive for female mosquitoes’ breeding. Those, who consume garlic and less sugary drinks and products, repel blood-sucking insects. Those, who eat lots of sweats and fruit, especially pineapples and bananas, attract female mosquitoes. There were detected 6 groups of mosquito magnetic humans 1. The reasons that stimulate mosquito attraction are:
1. high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on skin;
2. excess amounts of uric acid;
3. O blood type (the most common I (O) blood group; the highest percentage of population with O-blood is in Central and South America);
4. drinking beer regularly;
5. giving off more carbon dioxide (it is common for pregnant women and those with overweight);
6. exercising and activity, which increase heat, sweat, lactic acid, and movement, all factors that attract mosquitoes.
If you change your food preferences, consume less beer, sweats, fruit and sugar, before going out, you will reduce chances to be bitten by mosquitoes.
The US, Canada and EU health agencies have issued warnings. They ask pregnant women and those who are going to father a child in the nearest future not to travel to Brazil and other countries in the South and Central Americas which have registered cases of Zika. 2
If you can’t avoid travelling to ZIKV infected regions, CDC asks tourists to follow their recommendations to protect themselves and their family members from mosquito borne virus Zika. Women should avoid pregnancy for 6 months after travelling or being infected by the fever.
Ways to prevent mosquito breeding and development outdoors
Mosquitoes, causing Zika disease, and their breeding sites pose a threat to human life and health. Control and prevention of increase in density of mosquito population result in reducing blood-feeding females. The CDC recommends and develops two strategies for controlling mosquitoes in localities:
- through removal and modification of breeding sites
- through reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.
The first way of source reduction to control mosquitoes is connected with marshland reclamation, standing water elimination, septic tanks repair. It is necessary to empty, clean or cover containers regularly that are intended to store water, such as buckets, pots, drums and vessels. Other sites for mosquito breeding (used tyres, tin cans, garden watering-cans, leaky buckets and old flower pots, roof gutters) inside the buildings and outdoors, which accumulate water after rains and run-offs, must be cleaned and/ or removed.
Local authorities are recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme to spray insecticides and larvicides over large bassins of still water and other water containers in their locality in order to kill flying mosquitoes and larva. Anti mosquito fumigation by professional pest control agencies is the best way to control blood-sucking insects in forest and shrubby areas, in basements, houses and other buildings.
The second way of control and contact reduction is connected with installation of window and door screens and removal of mosquito-breeding sites in substructures, farm buildings via applying insecticides, which act as larvicides as well.