What you should know about the Zika virus and children

HEALTHY LIVING  |5.31.16  |  by Terra Wellington

Image Courtesy: CDC

With the combination of June being National Safety Month and the kids getting out of school, safety and fun are both top of mind.  We want to have happy summer times but also be smart about how we do it.  And the Zika virus is of concern to us, here at SMG.  We’ve watched with huge concern as this virus grows its reach.  While there continues to be much written about with regard to women of child-bearing age, we thought we would do a quick-tip write-up on the Zika virus and children.  How can you protect them and your family?  No one wants to get this virus.

Important tips protecting you and your family against the Zika virus 

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Best Source: CDC

When looking for advice on the Zika virus and children, we found our current best source to be The Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  This is the same source all the news outlets are going to for the most up-to-date information, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the recent letter to WHO by 100 prominent doctors across the world.  You should know that there is great concern and a lot of unknowns — including how quickly the virus will spread and all of its consequences.

Where is the Zika Virus Now?

The good news is that if you are in the United States, as of 5/25/16 it is only found in travel cases in the continental U.S. — meaning those people who have traveled outside of the U.S. and contracted the virus elsewhere.  However, the U.S. Territories have a lot of Zika virus cases that have occurred locally.  This is a continually updated map that tells you the current status of the Zika virus transmission in the U.S.


Image Courtesy CDC: Laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases reported to ArboNET by state or territory — United States, 2015–2016 (as of May 25, 2016)

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Your best bet for avoiding Zika is to 1) not travel to areas with local transmission and 2) take a prevention-focused approach in areas known to have local transmission.

Since the Zika virus is transmitted mostly by mosquito bites, it is best to try to avoid being bitten.  According to the CDC, these are your best protections against the Zika virus for your children if you live in a locally transmitted area for Zika:

  • Understand that the mosquitos that carry Zika bite mostly in the daytime
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Stay in areas with window and door screens that can keep the mosquitos out
  • Use insect repellent (but not on children younger than 2 months old) containing one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.  Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.  Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.  Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • If you are using sunscreen, put on the sunscreen before the insect repellant.
  • Permethrin insect repellent products are meant to be put on clothing, not skin, and usually remain effective for several washings.
  • Put mosquito netting over a baby’s stroller, crib, or baby carrier.
  • Take precautions in your neighborhood to dump all standing water that could breed mosquitoes.  And ask your local government agency what is being done to spray your area against mosquitos.  It would be best to also not breathe in the insecticide, so find out when are the local spray times.

Keep Up To Date

You’ll want to stay on top of the news and the CDC reports as the summer progresses to determine if local Zika transmissions start to show up in the continental U.S.  Also, many parents are concerned what the Zika virus does when you catch it.  Here is a simple infographic from the CDC.  If you are considering pregnancy or already pregnant, there are other substantial concerns regarding the affects of the Zika virus on your unborn baby; we have not covered this angle here, and instead please go to the CDC site for the most up-to-date information.


Image Courtesy: CDC

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