Tags: zika | us | protect | yourself | repellent

Zika Arrives in US: Here's How to Protect Yourself

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By    |   Tuesday, 09 August 2016 11:27 AM

The nation’s first cases of locally transmitted Zika have turned in up in Florida, putting health officials, experts, and residents on high alert.

Dr. Edward R.B. McCabe, senior vice president and chief medical officer at the March of Dimes, says the news spotlights the need for greater precautions to prevent the spread of Zika, which can cause serious birth defects in children born to women infected with the virus.

“This is the news we’ve been dreading,” he tells Newsmax Health. “The March of Dimes is deeply concerned about reports of Zika virus transmitted locally by mosquitoes in Florida and the risks to pregnant women and their babies.

“It’s only a matter of time before babies are born with microcephaly, a severe brain defect, due to local transmission of Zika in the continental U.S. Our nation must accelerate education and prevention efforts to save babies from this terrible virus. Federal, state and local authorities are doing the best they can with the limited resources available to them, but much more is needed."

Zika's U.S. arrival comes with Congress in recess after failing to reach agreement over how much funding should be used to combat it. The Obama administration has requested $1.9 billion to finance research, mosquito control, and other prevention efforts.

“It is especially unfortunate that Congress adjourned for the summer recess last week without passing legislation to provide more federal resources to combat Zika,” McCabe says. “Congressional leaders should do everything in their power to ensure that they will be ready to send bipartisan legislation to the president’s desk immediately upon their return in September.”

U.S. health officials have been warning for months that the summer mosquito season was likely to bring local outbreaks, with Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Texas and Louisiana, especially vulnerable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week ordered blood banks in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to stop collecting blood to prevent transmission of the virus through the blood supply. The FDA also recommended that nearby counties implement the same measures.

Zika has struck hardest in Brazil and has since spread rapidly through the Americas.
The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and other symptoms.

But it's especially dangerous for women who are pregnant because it boosts the risk of babies born with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.

It is also believed to be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and possibly neurological disorders in some people.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, making prevention essential. Health experts recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
  • Use repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Use air conditioning and window screens if possible.
  • Call your health care provider if you are at risk of infection.

Last month, Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. They tested products containing deet, plantlike ingredients lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. The most effective products:

•    Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin.
•    Natrapel 8 Hour, with 20 percent picaridin.
•    Off! Deepwoods VIII, w/25 percent deet.
•    Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.

“We advise skipping products made with natural plant oils, such as California Baby Natural Bug Blend (a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients) and EcoSmart Organic, (which includes geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil),” the Consumer Reports authors said.

“None lasted for more than 1 hour against Aedes mosquitoes, and some failed almost immediately. In addition, those products are not registered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates skin-applied repellents and evaluates them for safety and effectiveness.”

Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use deet, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA.

Other tips for using insect repellents safely and effectively:

1.    Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
2.    Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
3.    When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
4.    Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves.
5.    Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
6.    At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.

© 2020 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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Florida health officials' announcement that the nation's first cases of locally transmitted Zika appear to have turned up in Miami has put experts and residents on high alert. As authorities work to contain Zika's spread, here are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
zika, us, protect, yourself, repellent
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 11:27 AM
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