How can the spread of Zika virus be minimized?

Updated: Jun 30, 2021
  • Author: Bhagyashri D Navalkele, MD, MBBS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Residents who live in endemic areas or travelers to endemic areas are advised to avoid mosquito bites. Different strategies to prevent mosquito bites include wearing full-sleeved shirts and long pants, sleeping under mosquito bed net, using screens on windows and doors, and treating clothing and gear with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. [18]

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–registered mosquito-repelling agents such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), 2-undecanone, and para-menthane-diol (PMD) products can be used by all age groups including pregnant and breastfeeding women, except for OLE and PMD prodcuts which is contraindicated in younger than 3 years old, for prevention of mosquito bites. Mosquito larval habitats can be controlled by appropriate handling of water-holding containers, including routinely discarding or covering stagnant water or using larvicidal agents. Certain other measures to control mosquitoes, including the use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes as previously performed to prevent dengue infection by reducing the natural population of mosquitoes, is under investigation.

Caution should be exercised to prevent local transmission of Zika virus from infected patients to uninfected mosquitoes. Mosquito bites should be avoided during initial stages of Zika infection owing to high viremia. This reduces infection of mosquitoes and prevents local spread of viral illness. 

Caution should be exercised when traveling overseas to preventn mosquito bites. Travelers should preferable stay in a hotel or lodging with air conditionining or with screens on windows and doors, sleep under mosquito bed net preferably permethrin-treated.

In November 2017, the EPA registered a novel biopesticide (ZAP Males) in an attempt to control populations of Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquitoes). In this approach, male mosquitoes of this species are infected with a strain of Wolbachia pipientis that prevents healthy offspring when the infected males mate with Aedes albopictus females. This has been approved in twenty US states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Florida, Hawaii, Texas, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. [38]  Similarly, experimental use permit for field testing and release of Wolbachia infected Ae. aegypti male mosquitoes was issued by EPA in Florida, Texas and California. The results of these field studies are not available yet.

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