According to the World Health Organization, as many as 3 to 4 million people may be exposed to the Zika virus in the next 12 months—but you and your family don’t have to be among them. To combat the Zika virus-carrying Aedes mosquito, the use of personal insect repellents is already surging in many places where the virus has been reported.
So what can a family do? Here are six bits of advice from Spectrum Brands, Inc., manufacturer of Repel® and Cutter® insect repellents, for protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites while still enjoying the great outdoors:
- Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas. Female mosquitoes can lay thousands of eggs just about anywhere standing water collects. Those eggs become mosquito larvae and then adult mosquitoes in 10 to 14 days. To combat mosquito breeding, conduct a site survey of your property every week in search of standing water. Make sure your lawn is draining properly and look for any areas where standing water might collect, like rain gutters. Yard features like ponds or birdbaths need to include moving or fresh water to keep mosquito larvae from maturing.
- Use insect repellent and remember to reapply. When picking an insect repellent, consider the length of time you’ll be outside and the type of activity you’re planning. Find a repellent appropriately labeled for that use (length of protection varies by the percentage of active ingredient). DEET-based products, in particular, are recommended by the National Institutes of Health for effective, long-lasting protection and can be used by pregnant and breast-feeding women throughout pregnancy after checking with their physicians. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends DEET repellents for kids and advises that 30 percent DEET concentrations or lower can be used on children ages 2 months and up. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is the only natural active ingredient recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, but should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. Always follow product label instructions.
- Mosquito proof your home. Most people don’t think about mosquitoes entering their home, but it only takes one getting through a window or doorway to cause a threat to your family. Be sure that windows and doors are sealed off from the outdoors and screens are in good working order without holes.
- Use yard applications to eliminate mosquitoes. Kids and pets spend a lot of time in the yard during mosquito season. Using a product like the Cutter® Backyard™ Bug Control Outdoor Fogger can help eliminate mosquitoes in the area.
- Wear the proper attire when outdoors. Mosquitoes are attracted to exposed skin and dark colors so you can prevent some contact with them by simply wearing long pants, sleeves and light-colored clothing.
- Be aware that Aedes mosquitoes bite during the day. Mosquitoes are generally known to be most active at dawn and dusk, but the Aedes mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are most active and biting during the day. Educating your family about the use of insect repellents during the day to combat this additional threat is a good preventative measure.