Who Is At Risk

Zika is a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that can cause mild symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes) in healthy adults. However, pregnant woman are more susceptible to serious health risks since the Zika virus can be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy. The virus has been linked to fetal brain defects such as microcephaly. Microcephaly literally means “small head” and may cause baby to have learning disorders, balance and coordination problems, or childhood developmental delays.

How To Protect Yourself

There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika. Protection is preventive in nature and includes appropriate attire such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Insect repellent is highly recommended for pregnant women or for individuals who are spending long periods of time outdoors. According to Consumer Reports, the products that tested to be the most effective insect repellents against Zika are listed in the table below:

Brand name of insect repellant Active ingredient Time effective (per application)
Sawyer Picardin 20% Picardin 8.0 Hours
Natrapel 8 Hour 20% Picardin 8.0 Hours
OFF Deep Woods VIII 25% Deet 8.0 Hours
Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula 30% Deet 7.5 Hours
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus 30% Lemon Eucalyptus 7.0 Hours

Natural Alternatives

Though the CDC reports that all of the insect repellent options listed above are safe for consumer use, various sources argue against the safety of chemicals, especially Deet. As a health practitioner I consider these concerns heavily when deciding what to recommend to my patients. Even though it is effective for a shorter period of time, I would recommend the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus (30%), since its active ingredient is naturally occurring and toxin-free.

Online Resources About Zika

For more information about Zika, visit this link http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/fs-zika-basics.pdf from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). If you are planning a trip and want to check to see if Zika is a concern in the area you will be traveling to find the latest travel notices at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.