Zika Virus Still A Concern During Winter Months
Normally colder weather means the end of mosquito season. At least, that's what a lot of us believe. Unfortunately, what we believe is not exactly true. Letting down your guard against mosquito-borne illnesses such as the Zika virus just because it has gotten colder could be a fatal mistake in some cases.
LSU Health New Orleans Professor and Program Director of Environmental/Occupational Health Sciences Dr. James Diaz told the Louisiana Radio Network the same thing that makes Louisiana winters such a roller coaster ride are the same reasons that mosquitos are a problem year round.
So if there is a wide swing in the temperature variation, even during winter, it can stimulate female mosquitoes that are overwintering to seek a blood meal.
Goodness knows we have gone from heavy coats to flip-flops in the course of one day many times already this winter. So, it's always a good idea to protect yourself from the bites of mosquitoes. That means using the proper mosquito repellants. Those repellants are the ones that contain DEET.
It’s safe in pregnancy. It’s safe on kids, as long as they’re above infant age, over three to six months of age. So DEET is very effective.
Dr. Diaz also suggested that complacency could be a big factor in the spread of the Zika virus in Louisiana. He believes that many people just don't and won't think about mosquito protection during the "cold weather" months. He also expressed concerns about travelers who use the winter months to vacation in warmer climates.
The more imported cases we have from people who have contracted Zika while traveling, there’s greater likelihood that a local mosquito will bite somebody who is infected and then bite somebody who’s not infected.
The bottom line is this, in Louisiana, we are never out of mosquito season. While we might put on a jacket and long pants instead of t-shirts and shorts during December, January, and February the mosquitoes that inhabit our state are quite tolerant of our milder winters. They will be on the prowl whether you're bundled up or soaking up the sun.