As of March in United States alone there have been over 5 thousand registered Zika cases. The good news is that over 90 percent of these cases are travel-associated, meaning that these people have been infected during their time abroad and have gotten sick upon their return to the United States. But this also shows that people are not as careful as they should be in avoiding Zika while traveling. So here are some travel tips that will help you avoid getting Zika virus if you are traveling to one of the Zika virus affected areas.
Since there still isn’t a vaccine to prevent or to treat Zika virus, travelers need to be extra careful about their mosquito control, because it essentially is the only way to ensure that you don’t get Zika virus. When traveling to any of the Zika affected areas the first line of defense will be your clothing. One of the ways how mosquitoes are able to detect their targets is heat, which is why light colored clothing will be your best friend. Dark clothes absorb more heat than light clothing making it much more appealing to mosquitoes, which is why light-colored duds can make you less of a lure to mosquitoes. On top of that if you are wearing light colored long sleeve shirt and long pants, the clothing will also create a barrier between your skin and the mosquito, further ensuring that it cannot bite you and you are safe.
The second thing that you can do to avoid Zika virus is to know the habits of mosquitoes that carry this virus. As you might already know, insects responsible for Zika virus are the Aedes genus mosquitoes, like for example the Yellow fever mosquito. Most genus mosquitoes are the most active during dusk and dawn, spending their days hiding in dark places, but not Aedes mosquitoes. They prefer doing their hunting in daytime, which means that people naturally have a higher chance to get bitten by this mosquito during the day. Fortunately, Aedes genus mosquitoes are quite distinguishable in their looks, so you will be able to differ them from other insects. All Aedes genus mosquitoes gave dark bodies and legs with white striped markings on them, similar to tiger markings, making them look more intimidating but also better recognizable, so you can avoid them more easily.
And lastly don’t forget to use mosquito repellent. Even though most governments of affected areas do frequent mosquito fogger sprayings to eradicate the Zika carrying mosquitoes, these treatments are not enough to keep you 100% safe. Mosquito experts all over the world agree that the most efficient mosquito repellent is DEET, and none of the natural repellents can replace it. However, if you are against DEET then choose a repellent with oil of lemon eucalyptus in it, which is the closest you will get to natural DEET replacement. And remember to reapply your mosquito repellent frequently, too, because one of the most common mistakes that people make in regards to bug spray is that they apply the repellent once and hope that it will last for the whole day. But the truth is that most repellents are efficient for only a couple of hours, after which the repellent needs to be reapplied to maintain its mosquito repelling abilities.
So if you are traveling to any of the Zika virus affected areas make sure you wear long and light colored clothing to make yourself less attractive and your skin less accessible to mosquitoes, know the mosquito habits so you know when to use your insect repellent and reapply the repellent often to ensure the best possible protection against Zika virus.