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Zika Virus Facts, Information, Prevention and Protection

Graphic of globe as well as highlighted section of south american where Zika outbreak is occuring First things first: As of publication of this page (we’ll be updating regularly), according to the CDC there have only been 819 confirmed cases of Zika in the US States – and all but one of those were travel-related (meaning those diagnosed with Zika in the US contracted it directly or indirectly from other countries where Zika is an issue.. the remaining case was contracted in a laboratory). HOWEVER... there have been 1854 locally acquired cases in US Territories - so it is creeping our way.

While the WHO (World Health Organization) did declare the Zika virus to be a global health emergency, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) say that it is not a serious threat in the USA... yet.

Nevertheless, we have customers traveling to areas where Zika is a concern, and also have clients that are concerned that they may contract the Virus from others that have traveled to these areas. (At present, the virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific.)

Some basic information you should know about the Zika Virus:

About the Zika Virus

What is Zika?

Zika virus disease exhibits symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Is Zika Dangerous?

Yes. Primarily in that it causes serious risk to unborn children, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects, and poor pregnancy outcomes. During large outbreaks in French Polynesia and Brazil in 2013 and 2015 respectively, national health authorities reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease. Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome which coincided with Zika virus infections in the general public, as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil. Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. However, more investigation is needed to better understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus. Other potential causes are also being investigated.

Zika Prevention Information

How do you Avoid Zika Virus?

Both the CDC and WHO recommend EPA approved insect repellents to repel mosquitoes as they are the main carrier of the disease.

Other points for Zika prevention from the CDC:

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Image of bens Ben's Clothing & Gear Insect RepellentThe World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) both recommend treating clothing and gear with permethrin – this provides the first level of protection against mosquito bites.

They also recommend using an EPA registered insect repellent to avoid bites from mosquitoes (specifically the Aedes species mosquito which are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.)

Image of bens 100 maximum protectionThe most effective mosquito repellent is DEET, but some of our customers prefer Picaridin. - we carry both here:

While the mosquitoes that spread the disease do exist in the US, the virus is not yet prevalent enough to consider it a likely risk, and certainly not yet anything approaching pandemic proportions. The CDC explains that Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (A. aegypti and A. albopictus). These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots, and vases. They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitoes that spread chikungunya, dengue, and Zika are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

Also (rarely) From Mother to Child.

A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare. It is possible that Zika virus could be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. We are studying how some mothers can pass the virus to their babies. To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

Sometimes Through Infected Blood or Sexual Contact.

Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.

Important Information Concerning Zika

So why is Everyone Talking About Zika Virus?

There have been over 50 reported Zika cases in the US thus far - but they are all travel related. If traveling to an area where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found (or if you are pregnant and concerned that you might be near someone who has traveled to one of these areas and could be infected) take these precautions recommended by the CDC:

Image of bens consumer report alertUse Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.

  • Always follow the product label instructions
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.

If you have a baby or child:

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cut, or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.

Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last. Ben’s Clothing and Gear Spray (with Permethrin) lasts up to 2 weeks! If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully. Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Areas With Active Mosquito-Borne Transmission of Zika Virus

Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries. Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how and where the virus will spread over time.

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika). The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people. There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.

Treat the Symptoms

Get Plenty of Rest.

  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

If you have Zika, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. See Ben’s Outdoor – with DEET. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

Image of mosquito biting skin

WHO Zika Prevention Recommendations.

Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light colored) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets, it is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tires, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.

Special Attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly. During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. Insecticides recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers.

Travelers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

See Ben's DEET, Natrapel DEET-Free & BugX Insect Repellents, Ben’s Clothing and Gear Spray with Permethrin!


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