The world health organization has declared the Caribbean Free of the Zika Virus!
Before the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Maria made world news, the threat of the Zika virus was wreaking havoc on the tourism to Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that the disease is one not to be taken lightly, but there was also an unfair and untrue reality being portrayed about the severity of the disease by the media. It’s important to be well informed about the diseases no matter where one is traveling to. Being an informed keeps travelers means safe and successful vacations!
Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus that are from tropical and subtropical regions. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day. Their peak hours occur during early morning and late afternoon/evening. This is the same type of mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Unlike other mosquito-borne illness, the Zika virus can also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, through sexual contact, transfusion of blood, blood products, and organ transplantation.
The initial hype of health risks of this viral outbreak has faded in time. Residents and travelers in areas where the virus exists have been taking the necessary precautions to prevent the infection and spread of the disease. Zika has not completely eradicated from the 30 Caribbean islands and 18 countries in South America where it began popping up in the winter of 2016. The good news is there has been a dramatic decline of the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.
The initial hype of health risks and viral outbreaks can often fade quickly. In 2016, the Zika virus gained notoriety when women who were pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant were warned against traveling to several locations known to be vacation travel hotspots – Puerto Rico is one of those spots.
Though the media blitz has died down surrounding Zika, travelers need to be vigilant of the risks and seriousness that the Zika virus or any mosquito-borne illness can pose.
Luckily, the height of the Mosquito Season in Puerto Rico is the summer. Winter and Spring tend to be drier. But being that Puerto Rico is an excellent destination for year-round travel, here are a few important preventions to take, recommended by the CDC, when choosing to vacation at a tropical destination:
Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors:
- Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
- Use air conditioning, if available.
- Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
- One of the most effective ways to not get a bite is to wear appropriate clothing and gear
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Treat clothing and gear with insect repellents
Tips for babies and children:
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face
Prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas:
- Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.
- Buy a bed net at your local outdoor store or online before traveling overseas
- Do not wash bed nets or expose them to sunlight. This will break down the insecticide more quickly.
The CDC recommends the use of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are said to be proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
HOWEVER!!! If going all natural is more your thing than we have got you covered with an awesome recipe from Wellness Mama! You can premake the repellent before your travels, and even pour into travel size bottles! All ingredients can be purchased on Amazon.
Homemade Bug Spray Ingredients
- 30 drops geranium essential oil
- 30 drops citronella essential oil
- 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops rosemary essential oil
- 1 TBSP vodka or rubbing alcohol
- ½ cup natural witch hazel
- ½ cup water (or vinegar)
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
Homemade Bug Spray Instructions
- Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle
- Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
- Pour in witch hazel and shake well to combine.
- Add ½ tsp vegetable glycerin ( if using ) This is not a necessary ingredient, but helps everything stay combined.
- Add water and shake again.
- Shake before each use! The oils and water will naturally separate.
We can’t wait for you to come down and experience the beauty here and keep coming back year after year.
We will see you soon.
Safe & fun travels!