ZIKA. *bum bum BUM!*
That word is being uttered in infectious disease circles in whispers. Maybe we’re hoping that if we don’t talk about it too loudly, it won’t notice we’re here?
If you don’t know what Zika virus is, here’s a brief fun infographic on the basics.
So basically, we’ve got a mosquito (and sexually) transmitted virus with very generic symptoms hitting people in central and south America. The virus is then transmitted to fetuses by an infected mother causing a birth defect called microcephaly. (Click here to see more about microcephaly from Zika.) With the change of the seasons, those little mosquitos will be migrating a bit to the north here in the next several weeks. There is no cure, treatment or vaccine for this virus. Click here to see the CDC’s Zika info home.
As a nature lovin’ runner and hiker and wanting to have kids at some point, I am terribly concerned about my own and my hubby’s (he works outside) potential to contract this virus and then pass that on to a kid. I CANNOT imagine living my life without enjoying the outdoors. Also, as a therapist, I think outside the box to do the things I want, just differently. I’ve been brain storming what to do to protect ourselves from this monster virus, because we live in the indigenous area of those particular kinds of mosquitos, which is highlighted below.
Since there is nothing the medical community can do for me yet since there’s no treatment, cure, or vaccine currently available, we’ve got to focus on prevention. First, we have to tackle the more traditional mosquito bite prevention strategies:
We’ll focus on 3 of the 5 D’s over there: DEET, Dress, Drain. I’m going to go around our property once a week and make sure any standing water in containers is drained and where possible, just turn those containers over or cover them, so don’t have to worry about them. I’ll be wearing DEET mosquito repellent when I’m out. I also went and purchased several long sleeve sweat wicking running shirts off the clearance rack and will be adding a few pair on long leggings, crew top socks and a balaclava. Basically, I’m going to cover myself head to toe and pretend that I’m a super hero in all my stretchy awesomeness! Some of these items I’ll be purchasing already treated with permethrin from the Insect Shield people and the stuff that I’ve purchased locally I’m going to send in to be treated. I’m hoping Hubby will be convinced to get his work uniforms treated too.
I have several friends that are missionaries in equatorial regions around the world, where virus laden bugs are always an issue. So I picked their brains on what to do. In addition to the above, they recommended making sure all the screens on the windows of our house are in tact and in place, to get a screen door for our front door and putting a mosquito net over the bed. We’re renting currently, so we don’t have the freedom to add a screen door, but there are hanging screens I’ve seen such as this, which we will probably do.
I’ll add a few tips of my own invention to the pile. I intend to use plants as well. I’ve got a bit of a “brown thumb” as I’m pretty good and killing plants. But I think I’ll try some the hardier varieties of these mosquito repellant plants in pots. I’ll put them in pots so that I can keep them where we generally congregate outdoors– the front door and the back porch– but if we need to move them somewhere else for a party or something, we can. In case of that party or some other reason I’d be out in the yard a good while, I’d use a lawn spray. But we don’t have a nice yard for parties, so I doubt I’ll need that personally. As far as my outdoor sporting pursuits, I’m going to be a little more choosey about when and where I run and hike. I’m going to shoot to go out on days that are a little windier, so that the mosquitos can’t fly so well. I’m also going to try to select better places to run too. Most of the parks around here are built around small lakes/ponds of very stagnant water, that I’m sure are full of mosquito larva. The best places would be large open areas where the wind will not be impeded, not near those ponds… which is exactly where I hate running– on a treadmill or in a neighborhood. Blah! I prefer trail running in the woods… where there are lots of bugs buzzing around all the time. Maybe if I just run the tree line trail, so at least one side is open to the air and not near the pond… or I may just have to suck it up and run in the neighborhood. However, there is no hiking in a neighborhood. That would just be a hike with hiking boots on! I’ll have to trust my gear.
I obviously have a long to-do list to get cracking on before those mosquitos get here. What are you doing to protect yourself?