How (and why) to prevent mosquito bites
Summertime in Florida inevitably means mosquitos and lots of them. More than a mere nuisance, though, mosquitoes carry a variety of different illnesses that can be spread to people, so it’s important to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible.
If you’re sending your kids off to summer camp, planning a family fun day outdoors or traveling abroad, here’s what you need to know to keep the mosquitos away.
Illnesses that can be spread by mosquitos
We’ve heard a lot about the Zika virus over the last year, and Zika is still a concern in areas where the virus is spreading. Pregnant women should not travel to areas where Zika is active, due to the risk of serious birth defects. Zika can also be spread through sexual contact with an infected partner, so the partners of women who are pregnant must also take precautions if traveling to an area with the Zika virus.
Other serious diseases spread by mosquitoes include both Dengue fever and Chikungunya, neither of which are commonly seen in the United States but more often are a concern for those traveling abroad.
What you can do to prevent mosquito bites
If you’re planning a trip outside the United States, talk to a physician who is familiar with travel medicine about any health risks associated with that area 4 to 6 weeks prior to your departure. To find a travel medicine clinic near you, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wear long sleeves, pants and socks to prevent mosquito bites (although this is often a hardship in the Florida heat). Clothing and outdoor gear such as tents can be treated with permethrin to prevent mosquito bites as well.
Stay in air-conditioned places and use screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
Drain standing or still water around your home to eliminate breeding spots.
Call your local county government office to determine whether they have a Mosquito Control program. Many counties offer routine spraying to combat mosquito populations and may spray more often in areas where residents request them to do so.
Apply insect repellant each and every time you head outdoors. The following are insect repellants that have been proven to be safe and effective for preventing mosquito bites. Check the label of your insect repellant for these active ingredients:
-Picaridin, also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin
-Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Using insect repellant is the most reliable and effective way to prevent mosquito bites and to avoid the serious illnesses spread by mosquitoes. These ingredients have been proven safe for use in children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Find a product you like and use it each time you head outdoors; you won’t be sorry!