Summer is just around the corner and that means heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. With the potential for the Zika virus spreading in the United States rising, your typical summer schedule may need to be altered just a bit. So, as you mark your calendars and book swim classes or aquatic getaways, you may also want to consider how Zika will affect your kid’s pool schedule this summer.
In short: You'll need to pay close attention to rainfall, do your best to prevent standing water pools, and make sure the chlorine meets the requirements before diving in.
Understandably, the threat of Zika in the United States is scary and health officials and scientists are scrambling to find cures and answers to the widely spreading epidemic. The virus — which has been linked to serious birth defects for pregnant women, such as microcephaly, or unusually small heads — is spread through an infected mosquito bite and the virus is known to be present in countries across South America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. It has also been found in the United States, which leads to growing concern for the hot, humid, and commonly mosquito-ridden months ahead.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent infection and there is no medical treatment known for the disease yet, so precaution is absolutely necessary in the summer months, especially when poolside. The World Health Organization (WHO) says during a potential outbreak or during general prevention this summer insect repellent should be used regularly. WHO also advises wearing light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible as well as installing screens and sleeping under mosquito nets during the day.
Standing water is a prime breeding habitat for mosquitos, so upkeep and protection of pools and containers that can gather water quickly is very important.
“It is extremely important to empty, clean or cover containers regularly that can store water, such as buckets, drums, pots etc., “ WHO advises in a press statement. “Other mosquito breeding sites should be cleaned or removed including flower pots, used tyres and roof gutters.”
When planning pool days or swim meets for your kids, make sure to take precaution after rain. Mosquitoes need water for their eggs to hatch, so lots of mosquitoes tend to hang out on the insides of containers waiting for a passing rain shower. This can be anything from a bucket, to a lonesome cup left outside, or even some goggles poolside that gathered up some water. Only a few drops of water are needed. Those eggs mature into adult mosquitoes in only a matter of days, so, while annoying, flipping over those buckets and covering the pool may really help prevent an abundance of mosquitoes from calling your yard their delivery room.
Keeping the chemical chemistry maintained in swimming pools is also key to helping avoid it becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Make sure to empty those cute little kiddie plastic pools at the end of the day as well as other containers that may have gathered some water during a rain shower.
So, while U.S. cities along the water are at most risk for Zika this summer, there are ways to keep yourself and your kids safe from the virus. Extra precaution is definitely needed on those aquatic adventures. So, stock up on bug spray and stay alert for standing water pools as best as you can and summer break should continue as usual.