Zika, West Nile, Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Dengue what do these all have in common? These
diseases, and many more, are transmitted by mosquitoes. Zika, due to the recent epidemic, and
West Nile, because of its prevalence in our area, are probably the most notable of these.
In most people, symptoms of the Zika virus are mild or unnoticed. Common symptoms include
fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to newborn
microcephaly, or a smaller than normal head. Microcephaly can lead to a number of complications for the newborn baby, which is why there is much concern over the Zika outbreak.
No reported mosquito-borne cases of Zika have been contracted in the US the biggest risk is
West nile is an infection that has been known to spread in Pennsylvania. Most people with the
virus will show no to minor symptoms. However, some will develop fever, headaches, muscle
pain, nausea, rash, and rarely neurological complications.
Even without concerns of disease, mosquito avoidance is preferred because of their pesky
bites. As you gear up for summer, here are some steps to take to prevent mosquito bites and
reduce your risk of any mosquito-borne illnesses:
1. If traveling, avoid areas where outbreaks are active or seasons when diseases are more
prevalent. Always check the Centers for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) before
travelling to find where outbreaks might be occurring. Additionally, check with a
pharmacy or medical office that provides travel consult services to learn about all health
considerations when traveling.
2. Wear protective clothing long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, close-toed shoes, and high socks all help prevent bites as they create a physical barrier for your skin.
3. Avoid times of day when mosquitoes and other insects are less active although
other precautions should be taken at all times of day.
4. Use insect repellent. Products containing DEET, picaridin, and OLE (oil of lemon eucalyptus) or PMD have all been studied for their effectiveness in preventing mosquito and tick bites. However, these products’ effectiveness vary due to concentration, application method, frequency, and other factors. Products containing the ingredient “Pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil not formulated as a repellent) are not recommended.
5. When using a DEET containing product, the CDC recommends a concentration ≥20%
DEET to prevent against tick bites.
6. Always wash hands after applying bug spray to avoid accidental exposure to eyes or ingestion. When applying to children, adults should first spray on their hands and then apply to the child. Children should not apply mosquito repellant to themselves. Most products are safe for use in children over 2 months of age. Always check the product labeling before using on children though.
7. Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and clothes. When using a spray, avoid spraying directly on the face. Spray on hands and apply to face.
8. Never apply repellent to cuts or open wounds.
9. Repellents that are applied according to application instructions are effective when used with sunscreen. However, DEET containing repellents reduce SPF by 33%. When using a DEET containing
repellent, reapply sunscreen every 4080 minutes.
Here’s hoping you have a disease-free summer with as few bites as possible. Enjoy it!
The Gatti Blog
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.