Preventive measures can help contain Zika virus
Camps should take reasonable steps now to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.
The virus, primarily mosquito-borne, has been reported mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America and linked to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, mosquitos capable of carrying the virus are found in almost every country in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization. WHO has declared the Zika virus a global health emergency and indicated the virus likely will spread.
Start your quest for prevention by reviewing and strengthening your camp's mosquito-control program. Here are some tips from the Environmental Protection Agency and CDC to get your started:
Deter mosquito habitats
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, buckets, toys, playground equipment, old tires and other containers where water collects and mosquitoes can breed, as they like to lay eggs in and near standing water.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential breeding habitats.
- Drain or fill temporary puddles of water with dirt.
- Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
- Hire trained mosquito control professionals to apply larvicides and adulticides according to federal and state health and safety guidelines. Larvicides target larvae in their breeding habitat before they can mature to adult mosquitoes and disperse. Adulticides kill adult mosquitoes on contact.
- Provide lodging accommodations with air conditioning or with screens on windows and doors.
- Cover all gaps in walls, doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good condition and “bug tight” and doors close properly.
- Sleep under a mosquito net if sleeping outside or in a tent.
- Tightly cover water storage containers — buckets, cisterns and rain barrels — so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
- Cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated items. (Permethrin is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes and other insects).
- If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents and apply according to product label instructions.
Repellency awareness labels
Newly created repellency awareness labels for mosquitoes and ticks and approved by the EPA are appearing on skin-applied insect repellent products in 2016. Until these new labels surfaced, labeling on repellent products did not allow users to easily identify the insects repelled by a product and the amount of time a product will repel insects.
For more information on repellency labels, visit the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/repellency-awareness-graphic.
To review more information on the Zika virus, visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html.
For review more safety resources, visit https://www.churchmutual.com/campsafety.