Zika has arrived in the United States, but there are ways to protect yourself against the mosquito-borne virus.
With no vaccine or drugs to treat Zika, concerns about the virus are growing. Florida reported five new non travel-related cases of the virus last week.
How can you fight back against this threat? The military takes steps like Permethrin- treated uniforms, DEET or Picaridin loaded repellent applied to skin, properly worn uniforms to reduce skin exposure and Permethrin treated bed nets. With deep experience working in mosquito-infested areas, it is well worth applying their best practice to home defense.
A layered, combined defense is the best strategy. The military recommends it, as do the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Know what the insiders know and arm yourself with these four things: repellent, invisible shields, clothing and nets. Here are some top picks.
Military Grade Repellent
Insect repellent is an excellent way to combat Zika and other mosquito-transmitted threats. What are some of the best options?
About three decades ago, the military began working closely with 3M to develop a better way to defeat mozzies. Ultrathon Lotion was born -- militaries all around the world use it in jungles and other mosquito dense areas. The product, which is available for $10.50, is designed so that the DEET evaporates slowly, giving you about 12 hours or protection.
Consumer Reports tested a number of repellents and found that the two most effective products against Aedes mosquitoes used 20 percent Picaridin: Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour. Both are also popular choices with some special operations forces around the world. Sawyer is available for $9.99 and Natrapel for $7.18.
Don’t let mosquitoes drive you indoors. Set up an invisible shield to help you enjoy the final days of summer. Deploy Thermacell tech and a secret weapon based on a colorful flower to create a safe zone.
Thermacell products run via a small butane cartridge that heats up a small mat. The mat is saturated with something called allethrin, which mimics the chrysanthemum flower. As this mat heats up, the allethrin evaporates, creating a safe, odorless, invisible 15-foot x 15-foot zone. It is safe for pets and the entire family.
The products repel mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus, as well as other threats like West Nile virus, according to the manufacturer.
Priced at $39.99, the Scout Lantern launched a few months ago and offers a defensive perimeter for the likes of backyard barbecues, camping and hunting.
Whether running errands or running those morning miles, you can also bring a Zika shield with you by carrying the $24.99 handheld Repeller.
No Fly Zone Clothes
Expectant mothers … arm yourselves with a different sort of pregnancy clothes. Get some daisy inspired defense. The CDC recommends you try to limit your time outdoors, but if you do go outdoors then you should keep your skin covered. Aim to wear protective clothes like long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
For extra anti-Zika armor, choose clothing with permethrin. What’s permethrin? It is a synthetic version of a chemical produced naturally by daisies.
In 2016 Consumer Reports testing, the top performer was LL Bean’s tech. The fabric in their No Fly Zone line is lightweight, offers sun protection at UFP 50+ - and is treated with permethrin.
The LL Bean No Fly Zone Trail Shirt, made with the same material, is available for between $49 and $69. The Men's No Fly Zone Zip-Leg Pants are available for $99. The zip off pants are marked left and right to save time.
However, clothing that uses Permethrin doesn’t eliminate the need for repellent on your skin, but can certainly enhance defense against Zika.
Squash sneak attacks
Don’t let those mosquitoes sneak attack while you sleep. Insecticide-treated nets are more effective than untreated nets. Choose a tightly-woven net with enough fabric to tuck under your mattress. Research has proven that insecticide-treated nets dramatically reduce the risk of mosquito-borne threats to pregnant women and children.
Approved by the WHO, Olyset net technology incorporates permethrin into the actual fibers of the net. It releases it slowly over a number of years giving you long-lasting, enhanced mosquito protection.
The Pramex net, which uses Olyset technology, is available for $39.99.
Don't be that person
If you do travel to a potential Zika area, then remember to use repellent for three weeks after you return. This is very important. Why? The symptoms for Zika aren’t necessarily obvious so you could return home, be enjoying a BBQ and a local mosquito could bite you. You in turn could be infecting it with Zika. That mosquito could fly away and then bite someone in your family, your pregnant friend, a neighborhood child– so you could accidentally infect others.