Zika, pregnancy, and me

2006 Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame This 2006 image depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito as she was obtaining a blood-meal from a human host through her fascicle, which had penetrated the host skin, was reddening in color, reflecting the blood?s coloration through this tubular structure. In this case, what would normally be an unsuspecting host was actually the CDC?s biomedical photographer?s own hand, which he?d offered to the hungry mosquito so that she?d alight, and be photographed while feeding. As it would fill with blood, the abdomen would become distended, thereby, stretching the exterior exoskeletal surface, causing it to become transparent, and allowed the collecting blood to become visible as an enlarging intra-abdominal red mass, as is the case in PHIL# 9175, and 9176. As the primary vector responsible for the transmission of the Flavivirus Dengue (DF), and Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), the day-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito prefers to feed on its human hosts. Ae. aegypti also plays a major role as a vector for another Flavivirus, "Yellow fever". Frequently found in its tropical environs, the white banded markings on the tarsal segments of its jointed legs, though distinguishing it as Ae. aegypti, are similar to some other mosquito species. Also note the lyre-shaped, silvery-white markings on its thoracic region as well, which is also a determining morphologic identifying characteristic.

Aedes aegypti mosquito, mid-meal.

So, being a.) human and b.) pregnant, I am personally concerned about the Zika virus.  I live in central Oklahoma, and we have A. aegypti mosquitoes, though not year-round. I am at low risk for Zika.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a little worried.

So, on that note, I went off looking for ways to repel Zika skeeters. Those ways are the following:

  1. DEET
  2. Permethrin
  3. Picaridin
  4. Lemon eucalyptus

DEET is greasy and more toxic than the other options, and not much more effective. It works against ticks and mosquitoes when applied to skin, but can damage fabric and smells bad.

Permethrin works well for mosquitoes but less so for ticks as they are growing in resistance. It’s still pretty good though. It’s applied to clothing but not to skin. It lasts for a long, long time, much longer if clothing is machine washed in cool to warm water, air-dried, and not ironed.

Picaridin is  as effective as DEET against both mosquitoes and ticks, has no odor and no greasy feel.

Lemon eucalyptus oil works as well as DEET on skin, but lasts for a shorter time. It’s still fine for hours, though. It has a very strong citrus/grass smell. Not unpleasant, just very strong.

We are going with picaridin. Specifically Sawyer Premium with 20% Picaridin. It has no detectable odor, even to my pregnant nose, and felt like nothing on my skin. I could barely notice that I had something on in the crease of my inner elbow, but only if I paid attention.

Sources/further reading:

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Zika, pregnancy, and me

  1. Paul Young

    Never heard of picaridin. Thanks for the tip!

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