Since Zika was first detected in Southeast Asia, it raised numerous concerns about a potential rapid surge of the virus across Asian countries. As there are no vaccines and antiviral drugs to cure the disease, the Ministry of Health has urged Malaysians to take precautionary steps to reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes in their homes and protect themselves from Zika.
What is Zika?
Zika, a generally mild disease identical to dengue, is a mosquito-borne flavivirus first identified in Uganda in 1947, with rising cases of the endemic reported in 70 countries and territories to date. The virus, which the World Health Organisation calls a ‘global health emergency’, is said to be transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito that bites in the day time. While Brazil has recorded the highest case of 1 million in 2015, Singapore and Malaysia has reported 41 and 3 cases of the outbreak respectively, with one case involving a four-month pregnant woman in Johor.
Should you be concern? Yes. But how and what can you do to prevent Zika? Although there are no 100% effective way but here are Four Ways to Keep Mosquitoes and the Zika Virus at Bay.
Home Care Tips – Prevent Breeding of Aedes Mosquitoes
The simplest thing to do is to remove all water collected inside vases, pots, bottles or even old tyres. If water must be stored, ensure that containers are tightly covered to hinder mosquitoes from gaining access to water. As mosquito larvae stick around containers like glue, and can endure up to eight months in dry conditions, always empty and scrub clean containers once a week or whenever not in use. You must be aware of water gardens and swimming pools as well. Always aerate and clean the ponds and pools whenever possible to ensure that there are no surviving mosquito larvae.
The most underrated piece of utility that protects you against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry are mosquito net window screen and mosquito net for when you sleep. These utilities are great preventive measures to disable the pesky insects from invading your home. If you have a baby at home, invest in a baby bed cushion that is equipped with mosquito tents for their afternoon naps or plug in an insect killer lamp. If you feel that having mosquito nets are a hassle to keep, you can always opt for air purifier with mosquito catcher.
Self-care Tips – Mosquito Repellents are Your New Best Friend
One of the more known measures to mask the chemical cues that attract mosquitoes to feast on our bodies are repellents. Whether it is in the form of a mosquito repellent patch or spray, plant-based or otherwise, always make a habit to apply mosquito repellent before going outdoors, especially during daytime which is when Aedes mosquitoes are most active. Repellents are recommended for both children and adults as their efficacy last for several hours. Take note to always apply sunscreen before putting on mosquito repellents for optimised efficacy. If the smell of the spray or patch is too strong for you, you can always opt for a more innovative alternative, such as the bugslock that repels mosquito just as effectively.
Travel Tips – Postponing Travel Plans to Zika Outbreak Countries
Although it is only fair if you postpone your travel plans to areas with Zika outbreaks but understandably due to certain circumstances, it will be impossible. Opt for a more cheerful style with bright colour and thick-material clothes as mosquitoes like attracted to darker colours. Also remember to apply mosquito repellents and stick mosquito bikits to your clothings before stepping out of your home. From patches to sprays, bugslock to bikits, choices are aplenty for you to defend yourself against mosquitoes.
Health Tips – Monitor Your Health
Common signs include fever, skin rash, headaches and red eyes. If you feel under the weather for more than several days straight, especially those coming back from countries with reported Zika cases, make sure to monitor your health in the next few weeks.
Whether or not you are planning to travel to countries with Zika outbreaks, living in a community without any known report on the virus or feeling feverish without Zika symptoms, it is always important to keep in mind the mantra, “Prevention is better than cure”. Being fully prepared and equipped with necessary measures to ensure a healthy living environment for your family and community is the best action thus far.