What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus has now been classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation. Zika is a disease most commonly spread to humans from the bite of infected mosquitoes. As a general rule the symptoms of Zika are fairly mild (when compared to other mosquito-borne infections) however it has now been linked with Guillaine Barré syndrome and neonatal malformations. That is not to say that if you get Zika you will have the above, but it is possible.
Travellers are becoming far more concerned about protecting themselves against mosquito bites and some are delaying or cancelling travel. Below is some brief information to keep people safe from contracting this, or other mosquito-borne diseases.
How is the Zika virus spread?
Zika is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is found in a lot of the places that we Kiwis like to visit including the Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. There have been cases of Zika in all of these countries in recent months as well as South America, Africa and Asia. The mosquito is also found in Far North Queensland – although incidence of Zika to date has been imported, rather than contracted locally. Aedes Aegypti is an urban mosquito (usually found around built up areas and cities) and likes to feed throughout the day. So it is important that repellent is used day and night, not just in the dawn and dusk, as commonly thought.
Zika outbreaks are occuring in many countries so check the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention website and be sure to pack suitable insect repellents before you travel.
Which insect repellents offer the best protection?
To keep you safe from the possibility of contracting any mosquito borne vector it is important to use a good quality insect repellent.
Repel Tropical and Ultra strength and Active Duty insect repellents all meet the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention who recommend that repellents contain between 30-50% DEET or 20-25% Picaridin. Anything less than this and there is a greater chance of failure (mainly due to not reapplying frequently enough) and anything over this not going to give you any additional efficacy but there is a much greater chance of skin irritation.
Repel is NZs top selling locally made repellent range and has been keeping Kiwis, Aussies and others safe for over 30 years. Thousands of bottles of Repel are taken to the most exotic of locations each year.
Active Duty was specifically formulated for the NZ Defence Force and has been used by other military organisations around the world. So it’s been tried and tested in the world’s harshest conditions without failure. It was also the product used by a very prominent NZ sports team who travelled to Samoa for a match prior to attending a major world tournament in 2015!
What's the best way to apply insect repellent?
The major factor when applying repellent is that it is applied to all exposed skin – a couple of swipes around your ankles is not going to do the job. Sprays should be sprayed and then rubbed in to ensure complete coverage. You want a thin even layer over all skin.
Consumer feedback has told us that the Repel products smell and feel really good on skin compared with other products on the market, which is a huge benefit, as it means people tend to continue using it.
As Active Duty is formulated for the military it has minimal smell and also feels good on the skin – and the packaging is particularly appealing to men! The packaging is also designed to fit comfortably in a pocket – so great if you’re going hiking.
What other protection is available?
As mosquitoes can and do bite through clothing (including denim!) it is important when travelling to an area where diseases can be contracted to treat your clothing as well as your skin. The Repel and Active Duty ranges both have Permethrin Fabric Treatment kits which contain everything you need to treat clothing, bedding, mosquito nets and other equipment. How many kits you need really depends on the thickness and absorbency of the fabric and the number of items to treat. Wearing light coloured clothing (mosquitoes like dark colours) with long sleeves and long pants will also increase your protection. Permethrin will also protect you against other nasties such as bedbugs, leeches and ticks.
For those backpacking or travelling a little less upmarket, it’s also advisable to travel with a Long Life Insecticidal Mosquito Net. The insecticide will last the lifetime of the net, rather than a “treated net” which only stays treated for around 6 to 12 months. Also a treated sleeping bag liner is advisable.
It is possible to travel safely to areas where mosquito-borne diseases are endemic – and we at Skin Shield can help you with pretty much everything that you and your customers need. View our extensive product range or call us on (09) 480 0355 for further information.