Sunday, February 28, 2016

Protecting yourself & your kids from mosquitoes

There has been a lot of talk in the media and elsewhere about the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The virus is currently known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific, and it is carried by one specific kind of mosquito.

Here are some key facts from the WHO about the Zika virus:

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
While the Zika virus is the one getting the most attention recently, there are many diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, including malaria. This is list is from the organization AMCA at their website
If you are traveling anywhere where these mosquito-borne illnesses are present, you should speak with your doctor about how to protect yourself, and possible vaccines you should be aware of before heading out on your trip.

It's always a good idea to protect yourself and your children from mosquitoes: if only to avoid getting itchy and annoying mosquito bites. The three key words are: avoid, repel, treat. Avoid getting bitten, repel the mosquitoes, and treat the bites.

1. Avoid.
You can avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by wearing clothing that covers your skin (light coloured clothing is said to be best for this purpose), and by using mosquito netting for beds, playpens, and strollers.

Use a net to cover your baby when they're in the stroller or sleeping in a crib. Covering up to avoid getting bitten is also a simple solution (though it can be a challenge if it's hot), and there are even special brands of light-weight clothing that helps keep the bugs away. For example:

2. Repel
Using mosquito repellent is a must if you're in mosquito-filled areas. Even when we're visiting Sweden in the summer (where we worry more about itchy bites than diseases), repellents are a must if we're heading into the woods. For babies and young children, you do want to pick and choose which repellents you use: certain chemicals - especially DEET - should be avoided, especially for very young kids.

There are mosquito-repellent bracelets you can use, but I haven't had much luck with these myself. Maybe my blood is just too delicious!

3. Treat
If you do get bitten, a bit of relief is always nice. I've been using After Bite since the kids were babies, and I really like their products. Here are some other products that can help stop that itch:

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