Zika virus has been a hot topic in the media lately due to its potentially serious health consequences. In February of this year, the World Health Organization declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern. So what are the risks from Zika, and what can you do about them?
Zika is a mosquito born virus that has been around for quite a while. Initially discovered in 1947, only small handfuls of outbreaks had been documented prior to the May, 2015 Brazilian outbreak that reached headlines. Zika is spread by a specific species of mosquito, called the Aedes mosquito – not all mosquitoes carry the virus. The mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus are mostly active during daytime hours. When a person gets infected with the Zika virus, they may not even realize it. The symptoms are generally mild, lasting from a few days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint pain, and possible conjunctivitis. Treatment focuses on supportive care for the individual symptoms, if treatment is sought. Once you have been infected with Zika, the resulting immune response is likely to offer you protection from future infections.
For the average healthy individual, Zika doesn’t pose too much of a threat. The major concern with Zika is in regard to the possible birth defects that can result if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus. Microcephaly is the main concern, although other severe fetal brain defects are possible. Another possible, and serious, concern with Zika is a possible link to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Brazilian physicians have reported an increase in diagnosed cases of Guillain-Barre in patients who have confirmed Zika infections. Historically, Guillain-Barre is often preceded by some sort of viral or bacterial infection, so it is unclear if Zika is a specific risk factor beyond the fact that any infection could increase your risk. The Centers for Disease Control is looking into the possible connection.
With no prevention or “cure” available for Zika, the best way to avoid an infection is to practice aggressive mosquito management. There are likely just as many concerns surrounding harsh chemical methods of mosquito management, as there are surrounding Zika itself. If you want to prevent mosquito bites without slathering yourself in chemical pesticides, like DEET, that can cause rashes, numb or burning sensations in your lips, dizziness, nausea, and headaches, then consider these natural options instead:
- Practice good yard management techniques. Mosquitoes can reproduce using items that hold as little as a few tablespoons of water. Make sure that you remove any potential mosquito “hatcheries” on your property by eliminating sources of standing water. If you have bird baths or outdoor pet bowls, make sure you dump, clean, and refill them frequently. It only takes 7-10 days for mosquito eggs to hatch and larvae to mature. If you have ponds, water troughs, or other large standing water sources that you can not change out regularly, there is a biological agent called “BT” that is safe for fish, animals, and people that you can add to these water sources. It acts as a larvicide, killing the mosquitoes before they can mature, and most garden centers will carry it.
- Get some help from your garden. There are many plants that naturally repel mosquitoes – you may have heard of one of them because of its use in mosquito repellents and candles – Citronella. In addition to planting Citronella, you can add Lemon Balm, Catnip, Marigolds, Lavender, Peppermint, Garlic, Rosemary, Geranium, and Pennyroyal plants to your outdoor landscaping to keep mosquitoes at bay.
- Use a natural repellent or essential oils. Many essential oils will repel mosquitoes. Some that have been used with success are Basil, Catnip, Clove, Citronella, Eucalyptus, Garlic, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Myrrh, Neem, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Pine, and Rosemary. You can also experiment with combinations of these oils for better protection. If essential oil mixology isn’t your thing, you could also pick up one of the natural insect repellent sprays that are easily found anywhere that traditional DEET-based repellents are sold. These often are based on essential oils and have been proven just as effective as DEET-based sprays, though they do need to be reapplied more frequently.
The majority of us don’t have much to fear from the Zika virus, but for pregnant women, or those who may be immune compromised, proactive mosquito management is important. Even if you’re not in a Zika risk category, nobody likes to get bitten by mosquitoes, and they’re a real nuisance to our warm weather outdoor activities, so try some of these techniques, and enjoy a mosquito-free summer!
The post With Zika Concerns Growing, Try These Natural Mosquito Management Methods appeared first on NaturalNews Blogs.