Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Zika virus is dangerous for pregnant women as it may cause subsequent birth defects. However it is not clear how harmful it can be for older children.
For adults, Zika virus usually causes only mild symptoms. There’s a rash, fever, joint pain or red eyes, which go away within a week. And many people don’t get symptoms at all.
So far, this is also what doctors have seen in babies and older kids.
There’s no evidence that Zika attacks children’s brains as it does those of fetuses.
The virus can cause infections in the brain, such as encephalitis. It is also known to increase the risk of a rare neurological disorder, called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can leave people paralyzed for weeks or months — sometimes permanently.
While the doctors are still undecided about whether Zika Virus poses a serious threat for children or not, parents can become proactive and take preventive measures to safeguard children against potential threats.
How to save children from Zika Virus:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.
- 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.
- To protect your child from mosquito bites:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and 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.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
Lifescience Global publishes International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, a peer-reviewed journal which publishes papers dealing with all aspects of child health and defining the nutritional needs of children, from conception through adolescence. If you are interested in contributing or subscribing to International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, please visit the journal here.