Mosquitoes have become more than a nuisance. In recent months, cases of the Zika and Chikungunya viruses, which are transmitted by mosquitoes, have been reported throughout the United States and its territories. A large portion of the world's population lives in areas at risk for other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue and malaria. With so many Americans traveling abroad for business and pleasure over the summer months, it is possible that even more cases of mosquito-borne viruses will occur locally. That's why it's especially important for everyone to follow the recommended tips for avoiding mosquitoes.
Pregnant mothers, especially, should follow all recommendations to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that the Zika virus does cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects to unborn infants. Additionally, the CDC reported that of the current 472 cases of Zika virus in the United States, none have yet been acquired locally. Still, the CDC warns that there is the possibility that travelers infected with Zika overseas can spread the virus to local mosquitoes if they are bitten within three weeks of being infected. This threat is enough to warrant everyone to do their best to avoid exposure to mosquitoes. And here are some ways to do just that.
1. Use Insect Repellent
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends insect repellents containing DEET. Other EPA registered repellents contain picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products, but the CDC warns that products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not to be used on children under age three.
2. Stay Indoors Midmorning And Early Evening
Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, but Dr. Dan Strickman of the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation explained to NPR that the mosquitoes prefer midmorning and early evening hours. As tempting as it may be to stay out at night, it's safer to stay indoors.
3. Use Air Conditioning Or Screened-In Windows
By airing out the house the old fashioned way, you're essentially inviting mosquitos into your home. Only open doors and windows with screens or opt for an AC unit.
4. Remove Standing Water
Dr. Jorge Rey, interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, told NPR that although chemically-treated swimming pools are safe, you should dump out any standing water where mosquitoes can breed. This includes kiddie pools, plant pots, bird feeders, old tires, buckets and trash cans.
5. Wear Long Sleeves And Pants Outdoors
Yes, you'd rather walk round in tanks and Ts, but the CDC recommends wearing long sleeves and long pants during peak mosquito hours. Mosquitoes may be able to bite through tight clothing, so you may want to select slightly looser pieces.
6. Wear Light Colors
Gabrielle Francis, a New York City naturopathic doctor told Conde Nast Traveler that mosquitoes are attracted dark colors and you should instead, wear white, beige, or light khaki colored clothing. Which is perfect because who wants to wear black in the summer?
7. Treat Your Clothing And Gear With Permethrin
According to the EPA, permethrin can be used without posing unreasonable risks to human health when applied according to the label. It can be sprayed on clothing and gear and continues to work after several washes. Don’t forget to treat your socks, hats, bandanas, and shoes too.
8. Avoid Perfumes
Perfumes and deodorants with floral scents attract mosquitoes. Ironically, researchers at New Mexico State University recently discovered that Victoria's Secret Bombshell perfume actually repels mosquitoes.
9. Stay Cool
Mosquitoes are attracted to warm bodies, carbon dioxide and the scent of sweat. Motherboard recently reported on two Brazilian advertising agencies recently developed a mosquito-killing billboard that is lit with fluorescent lights, emits carbon dioxide, and secretes lactic acid which mimics human sweat and breathing. Mosquitoes are lured from up to two and a half kilometers away, trapped inside and eventually die. Since you can stan dby this billboard forever, just do your best to stay cool.