4 things you can do to avoid getting the Zika virus

When travelling in areas affected by the Zika virus, prevention really is the best cure. Professor Larry Goodyer has the following advice for travellers

8 mins

The number of areas affected by the Zika virus is increasing at an alarming rate. And little is known about the true nature and impact of the virus. The only certain way of reducing the risks of the disease and others like it such as dengue is to follow good mosquito bite avoidance practice.

Here are four steps you can take to avoid being bitten in the first place. They may seem like common sense. You may feel that you already know them. But you would be surprised how many people neglect to follow them.

1. Know your enemy’s movements

The mosquito transmitting Zika bites mostly during the day and is most active mid-morning and late afternoon. Take extra care during these hours: cover up and avoid getting bitten.

2. Apply repellent generously

Slather on 50% DEET insect repellent to exposed skin and reapply it after a few hours when the effect wears off. Despite some concerns, DEET is by far the most effective insect repellent available. Research has shown that DEET is not absorbed into the placenta in pregnant women. 

3. Cover up

Cover up exposed skin on arms and legs and ideally with mosquito proof clothing. Insect repellent clothing is usually tightly woven to prevent insects from penetrating and/or impregnated with insecticide. You can also buy Permethrin spray to use on your existing clothes or to add an extra layer of protection on old mosquito nets.

4. Stay vigilant

The Zika virus is getting all the headlines at the moment, but don’t forget there are other mosquito-borne diseases around and that the mosquito which transmits malaria bites at night. Sleep under a mosquito net which has been treated with an insecticide and use plug-in room insecticide vaporisers to minimise your chances getting bitten at night.

Professor Larry Goodyer is the Medical Director at Nomad Travel. Nomad are experts on mosquito bite avoidance and stock a range of products to help you minimise your chances of getting bitten. They also have 10 travel health clinics across the UK.

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