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.
Since Zika was first detected in Southeast Asia, online marketplace 11street has seen surge in search trends for mosquito-related items, such as mosquito patch with a 517% increase, and mosquito bugslock at 349%. These warning signals are raising 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.
Also known as a “container-breeding mosquito”, the Aedes Aegypti lays eggs in and around standing water. Hence, it is important that water in containers are removed and items that collect water such as old tyres, vases, pots and bottles are stowed away safely to prevent female mosquitoes from breeding. 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.
Water gardens and swimming pools are great to have, but are major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. If you have decorative ponds or a swimming pool at home, always aerate and clean the ponds and pools whenever possible to ensure that there are no surviving mosquito larvae. Other than that, always ensure that drains are properly managed, cleaned and free of trash and weeds so that they are not clogged.
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
There are ample reasons to take every possible measure to avoid mosquito bites even without taking into account their terrible, stinging itchiness. What most people are not aware of is that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, humidity as well as certain chemicals in our sweats.
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
It is highly advisable to postpone your travel plans to areas with Zika outbreaks. However, under unavoidable circumstances, it is imperative to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before you leave. Always equip yourself with a travel case of essential items such as mosquito repellent spray, mosquito repellent soap and mosquito bikit.
Despite the hoopla on the virus, it should not deter you from enjoying the great outdoors without worrying about getting bitten. When you travel and venture outdoors for a day of sight-seeing and fun-times, always remember the two Ds – dress and defend. As mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours, opt for a more cheerful style with bright colour and thick-material clothes especially if you are doing a lot of cardio.
Always 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
While common signs include fever, skin rash, headaches and red eyes, four out of five people do not know that they have contracted the virus as Zika symptoms might not show in some people. 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.
A multifunction thermometer at home is important to monitor fever outbreak. If you feel sluggish and out of tune, it might be your body telling you something. Do not ignore this and quickly rush to your nearest doctor or healthcare provider for a test. Also, stock up on some fever patches to help cool down your body temperature.
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.
At 11street (www.11street.my), we strive to provide you with the best products and services for a healthy and happy community from Zika.
(Release from 11 street)