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Zika Virus: What You Need to Know


Governor Rick Scott has declared a health emergency in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Lee, and Santa Rosa counties due to the Zika Virus. Currently, at least nine cases have been reported.

The Zika virus is linked to brain deformities in babies and is causing concern among public health officials worldwide. The virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites, but investigators had been exploring the possibility it could be sexually transmitted, according to WFLA.

What is Zika?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites.

  • The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.

  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

  • Symptoms usually appear two to 12 days after a bite and go away within a week, however in rare cases Zika has caused neurological issues and even paralysis.

The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects like Microcephaly. Pregnant women are urged to take extra precautions against the Zika virus, including limiting travel to areas with outbreaks. Travel guidelines issued by the CDC can be found here.

How to prevent Zika

One of the easiest ways to prevent Zika is to limit the amount of skin exposed. Since it is transmitted through mosquito bites, it is important to take precautions against mosquitoes.  Avoid areas where mosquitoes may breed such a still or standing water like puddles or stagnant kiddie pools. You can also avoid mosquitoes if you stay away from wearing dark colors as mosquitoes are attracted to darker colored clothing.

The CDC also recommends:

  • Wear 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 you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
    • Always follow the product label instructions
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
    • If you have a baby or child:
      • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
      • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
      • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
      • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
      • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

If you suspect that you may have Zika, seek medical attention immediately.

You can also find helpful information on mosquito repellents and the best brands here.

You can also check out Bug Band, which offers safe alternatives to harsh chemical repellents.

For home remedies and homemade repellents, click here.


Krista is the editorial assistant for Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine and has been a contributing writer for several Bay Area publications. She has been with Tampa Bay Parenting since June 2014 and is excited to bring her experience as a writer to the best family publication in the Bay. She strives to tell accurate and compelling stories to help families make informed decisions. 


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