South Florida’s Zika Conundrum

With the news of locally-acquired Zika cases appearing in Miami, Floridians have grown more and more concerned. Originally, it was thought to be enough to simply refrain from traveling to prevent contracting the virus, but now there is much more we can and should be doing to protect ourselves, and our families.

The fact of the matter is that the species of mosquito that carries the Zika virus has some stark differences from the mosquitoes we are all too familiar with living in South Florida. The Aedes aegypti feeds almost exclusively on human blood, which means they can often be found living in urban areas in and around people’s homes. It also does most of its biting during the day, which many do not expect.

Since there is no vaccine to prevent the virus, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves from mosquito bites, especially considering this same species of mosquito is known to carry Dengue fever and Chikungunya, as well.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for preventing mosquito bites:

  • Drain any standing water in and around your home – these mosquitos can lay eggs in very small bodies of water. This makes it crucial to prevent water from gathering in your yard, sink, recycling bins, etc.
  • If you can handle it in this heat, try to wear clothing that covers your skin, but think very light/breathable fabrics since it is the end of summer in South Florida.
  • Use bug repellent – oil of lemon eucalyptus, DEET and Picaridin are all EPA-registered bug repellents that can help lower your chances of getting mosquito bites, if used as directed.

For additional information, check out the CDC website for details about mosquito bite prevention, and the Zika virus.