Fight Zika Naturally
Mosquitoes have been in the news frequently this year, as concern over the spread of the Zika virus into the U.S. and its territories has increased. Zika is just the latest of many mosquito-borne diseases, which include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya. The pesky bugs also transmit heartworm to dogs and cats. But the Zika numbers are rising fastest.
Only about one in five people infected with Zika will show symptoms, which are relatively mild and include fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). It won’t kill you, but there is no cure or vaccine yet, and it can also be spread through sexual contact. The biggest threat from Zika is to pregnant women, whose babies can be born with microcephaly (abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains) and other severe defects. Scientists are also investigating potential links between Zika and two other adult neuromuscular disorders: Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of mid-September 2016, there were 23,135 cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories. More than 2,000 of those were pregnant women. The Obama Administration first requested federal funding to combat Zika in February 2016, but Congress has failed several times to approve a funding bill because of partisan fighting over included measures and stipulations. The latest draft of a Zika funding package is set for a vote before September 30, 2016, when Congress must pass a larger government spending bill to avoid a shutdown.
One of the measures in earlier drafts (not present in the latest) that caused opposition to the funding package was a relaxing of regulations governing the use of pesticides, which could have high environmental costs. At the end of August 2016, Dorchester County in South Carolina used planes to spray the insecticide Naled in an attempt to control mosquitoes. The effort ended up killing literally millions of honeybees and wiping out entire bee farms.
While waiting for Congress to hammer out funding for vaccine development and other less environmentally harmful solutions, what can you do to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes and minimize your risk of contracting Zika?
Reduce Their Habitat
Mosquitoes need standing water in order to breed. Inspect your property and eliminate any such sources, including clogged rain gutters, sagging pool covers, and old tires or other containers that collect precipitation. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling and trash containers to avoid water collection. If you have water sources that cannot be eliminated because they’re being used, such as wading pools, birdbaths, or flowerpot saucers, you should empty and clean these twice a week.
Reduce Your Appeal as a Target
There are several ways you can make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes and protect against bites:
Use fans. Creating a light breeze will help keep mosquitoes away from you. They fly close to the ground, so keep the air moving around the lower half of your body.
Use insect repellent. Look for DEET or other Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered ingredients. Clothing (but not skin) may also be treated with permethrin. Follow all package directions. You can find the best mosquito repellent from our friends at Wilderness Mastery.
Use essential oils. If you’re not comfortable with the chemicals in commercial repellents, you can apply certain essential oils that have been shown to repel mosquitoes, including citronella, clove, and eucalyptus, for a natural solution.
Choose the right clothing. Especially at dawn and dusk (the most active times for mosquitoes), you should minimize skin exposure by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Bugs can still bite through tight or thin fabric, so go for looser fits and denser weaves. Light colors are best, as mosquitoes are drawn to darker colors.
Be aware of your CO2 output. Mosquitoes hone in on their prey by detecting carbon dioxide, which you emit when you exhale. Exercise and other activities that increase your CO2 output will draw the bugs to you.
Mosquito Netting: A Natural Solution
Another effective and environmentally friendly means of protection recommended by the CDC is mosquito netting. It can be used to drape a crib, playpen, or adult bed, or to enclose a larger outdoor area. We offer high-quality mosquito netting with a fine mesh of approximately 1,200 holes per inch. That’s small enough to stop the tiniest “no-see-um” midges as well as Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, yet still allows free air circulation. Our mosquito netting can protect you and your family at home, on camping trips, or during travels to high-risk areas.
Whether you need a single piece of mosquito netting to cover a stroller, crib, or bed, or custom panels with finished edges to enclose a gazebo or patio, our fabricators are ready to fulfill your requirements. Call us at 1-800-331-2973 or e-mail [email protected] for more information or assistance in placing your custom order.