Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It has also has been recently discovered that it can be spread by sexual trasmission.
Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, cases have been reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.
These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
The CDC recommends using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
Despite this advocacy, some people don't believe DEET is safe and prefer to use a natural alternative. Other people simply dislike the odor of commercial products or find them to be irritating to their skin. A recent review of repellents published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical, Chemical and Biological Sciences found these homemade remedies to be effective.
Catnip Nepetalactone, the essential oil found in herbal catnip, was cited as being 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes.
Neem oil from the need tree (Azadiracta indica) in concentrations of one to two percent mixed with coconut oil was found to be effective against the mosquito that spreads malaria. Neem is a plant that grows in India.
Garlic, whether consumer or purchased as a concentrated oil and rubbed on the skin, is an effective repellent.
Oils with good repellent qualities include eucalyptus, cinnamon, castor, rosemary, cedar, and peppermint. Most people who use these oils either placed them directly on pulse points or mixed them with another oil (some mixed them with moisturizer) and rubbed the combination into their skin.
Lavender flowers rubbed on the skin and lavender oil placed on pulse points are considered effective homemade remedies.
Organic soybean oil, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, is an effective repellent. Soy oil is inexpensive, easy to find, and works as an excellent moisturizer.
Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is also thought to be effective, though it is considered most effective when dispersed as a transdermal patch. When consumed, though, excess thiamine will primarily be flushed out as waste and will not effectively repel mosquitoes.
Homemade Repellent Recipe 1
10-25 drops of essential oil (lavender, coriander seeds, peppermint, cajeput and citronella)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (optional)
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar; stir to blend. Dab a few drops on your skin or clothing.
Courtesy of Annie B. Bond.
Homemade Repellent Recipe 2
25 drops essential oil (lavender, coriander seeds, peppermint, cajeput and citronella)
1/4 cup water or organic apple cider vinegar
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to blend. Dab some on your skin or clothing.
Courtesy of Annie B. Bond.
Homemade Repellent Recipe 3
6 drops each of essential oils of catnip, citronella, lavender, neem, and black pepper
30 mL of an unscented and natural oil or moisturizer.
Mix ingredients and rub on skin.
Courtesy of Michelle Schoffro Cook.
To read more about the Zika Virus please visit. www.www.cdc.gov/zika.
Source: Patel EK, Gupta A, Oswal RJ. A review on: mosquito repellent methods. International Journal of Pharmaceutical, Chemical and Biological Sciences. 2012.