Summer break is just a few weeks away. For more than 100 years, kids all around the country have spent days, or even weeks, surrounded by nature, making new friends, and creating memories. This year, however, the growing number of Zika cases in the United States has some parents worried about the dangers of sending their children to outdoor summer camps. Are the risks worth the benefits? If so, what items should kids have at summer camp to avoid Zika?
First and foremost, as of the writing of this article, there are no reported Zika cases within the United States that have been acquired locally. All of the patients have tested positive after traveling to Latin America, the Caribbean, or the Pacific Islands, or have been infected through sexual contact with a person who was infected with the Zika virus outside of the United States.
Mosquitoes have long been a concern at summer camps, with some camps even providing mosquito netting over the bunks. Bug sprays and anti-itch creams are staple items on the American Camp Association's list of what to bring to summer camp. In addition to the staples, there are a few specific items campers can bring to camp this year to help prevent being infected by the Zika virus.
1. EPA Registered Insect Repellent
Every child should have bug spray at summer camp. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products, but warn that products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not to be used on children under age three. Adults should apply the insect repellent on their hands and then put it on the child.
Just because your child has to wear insect repellent at all times, doesn't mean he should forget his sunscreen. Sunscreen should be worn under insect repellent to keep him from getting sunburned and making the skin sensitive to the insect repellent. There are some combination sunscreen and insect repellents on the market, but parents should check if they are EPA registered.
3. Permethrin Treated Clothing
You can pre-treat your child's clothing with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kill ticks and mosquitoes. Permethrin treated clothing continues to work after several washes. Statnews.com recently reported that the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit Zika have begun to develop resistance to permethrin in Puerto Rico. However, the product still repels and kills other disease-carrying insects that are prevalent in the outdoors.
4. Light-Colored, Loose Fitting Clothing With Long Sleeves And Pants
Choosing lightweight clothes with long sleeves and long pants will create and extra barrier between your child and Zika.
5. Hat Or Bandana
A hat or bandana can help protect your child from a mosquito bite to the scalp and well as a sunburn. Hats and bandanas can be treated with permethrin for an extra layer of protection.