By now, we all know that the best way to avoid contracting the Zika virus is to avoid being bitten by the Aedes egypti mosquito that carries it (as well as dengue and chikungunya viruses). Over the last few months, that hasn't been much of an issue for U.S. women, as the mosquito is native to warmer climates in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Canceling your February vacation to Jamaica is a bummer, but it's preferable to contracting an illness that can lead to severe, even fatal birth defects. In addition to coating yourself in bug spray this summer, there are a few other ways you can protect yourself from Zika virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect Aedes egypti and its cousin, Aedes albopictus to migrate to the U.S. during the warmer months. And it's not just Texans and Floridians who need to worry; Aedes egypti is expected to travel as far north as Connecticut, and Aedes albopictus, which can survive in cooler climates, could make it all the way up to Maine. Though the CDC has said that Aedes albopictus are less likely to spread Zika, that doesn't mean they won't, so it's time for everyone to up their mosquito game. This is important even if you're not pregnant or planning to become pregnant, because Zika can be sexually transmitted, and it can also be spread if a mosquito bites an infected person and then goes on to bite someone else. Staying Zika-free is a community effort. Here's how to do it.