5 Ways to Prevent Zika

by Kayla Becker

5 Ways to Prevent Zika

by Kayla Becker

The Zika virus continues to be top of mind for travelers, especially now that locally transmitted cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been reported in Miami, where almost five million cruisers set sail every year. For many cruisers, there's no cause for alarm. But it's still a good idea to know how to prevent the virus, especially if you or your partner are pregnant or could become pregnant, or if you have a weak immune system. Here’s what you should do to best protect yourself.

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Miami / iStock / Lady-Photo
Buy the right bug spray
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1. Choose the right insect repellent.

Not all bug sprays are created equal, and only a selection will ward off the mosquitos that carry Zika. To make sure you’re really getting effective coverage, you should choose an EPA-registered repellent with either DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone. The EPA has a search tool to help you pick the right one for you based on the specific protection you need.

Not all bug sprays are created equal, and only a selection will ward off the mosquitos that carry Zika. To make sure you’re really getting effective coverage, you should choose an EPA-registered repellent with either DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone. The EPA has a search tool to help you pick the right one for you based on the specific protection you need.

Wear bug repellent clothing
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2. Wear clothes that block bugs.

Cover as much skin as possible, and wear light colors since they’re less likely to attract bugs. There’s an extra step you can take, too: wearing clothing made specifically to repel mosquitos. Brands like L.L. Bean, ExOfficio, and Nobitech sell clothing coated in an EPA-approved permethrin insect repellent to fend off the nuisances — and they’ve been selling out since Zika was first reported in the U.S. in July. The companies claim the bug repellent can last for up to 70 washes.

Cover as much skin as possible, and wear light colors since they’re less likely to attract bugs. There’s an extra step you can take, too: wearing clothing made specifically to repel mosquitos. Brands like L.L. Bean, ExOfficio, and Nobitech sell clothing coated in an EPA-approved permethrin insect repellent to fend off the nuisances — and they’ve been selling out since Zika was first reported in the U.S. in July. The companies claim the bug repellent can last for up to 70 washes.

Stay connected
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3. Download the WHO Zika app.

Want to receive the latest updates on Zika? There's an app for that. Even though the World Heath Organization's Zika app was created as a tool for health care workers, it’s also informative for travelers who want the most current situation reports (such as alerts that the Caribbean islands St. Kitts and Nevis are now reporting Zika cases for the first time). The app is free for Android and iPhone and comes in several languages.

Want to receive the latest updates on Zika? There's an app for that. Even though the World Heath Organization's Zika app was created as a tool for health care workers, it’s also informative for travelers who want the most current situation reports (such as alerts that the Caribbean islands St. Kitts and Nevis are now reporting Zika cases for the first time). The app is free for Android and iPhone and comes in several languages.

Nassau, Bahamas
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4. Avoid affected areas.

If you want to be 100% safe, consider steering clear of the CDC's list of areas that have reported local cases of Zika, which includes popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and now South Florida, too. This is especially true if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant in the next few months, since the virus can cause birth defects. Luckily, there are many other embarkation ports all around the U.S., and itineraries to destinations around the world that have not seen signs of the virus. It could be a great excuse to see a new part of the world you maybe haven’t considered. Australia, anyone?

If you want to be 100% safe, consider steering clear of the CDC's list of areas that have reported local cases of Zika, which includes popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and now South Florida, too. This is especially true if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant in the next few months, since the virus can cause birth defects. Luckily, there are many other embarkation ports all around the U.S., and itineraries to destinations around the world that have not seen signs of the virus. It could be a great excuse to see a new part of the world you maybe haven’t considered. Australia, anyone?

Avoid staying outdoors without protection
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5. Limit exposure in affected ports.

If you do travel to a Zika-affected area, try to limit your time outside and avoid places where the windows have been left open for a long period of time. And remember, these mosquitos bite during night and day, so just because the sun hasn’t gone down doesn’t mean you are in the clear. It pays to apply your bug spray often.

If you do travel to a Zika-affected area, try to limit your time outside and avoid places where the windows have been left open for a long period of time. And remember, these mosquitos bite during night and day, so just because the sun hasn’t gone down doesn’t mean you are in the clear. It pays to apply your bug spray often.

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