With spring in the air, many camping fanatics are switching off their television sets and hitching on their hiking boots in hopes of making their first tent camping endeavor of the season. Indeed, camping is somewhat of a pastime for Americans: in 2013 alone, over 40 million people went camping, and almost 99% of campers report that they were likely to camp again within the coming year.
And while 87% of those campers are eager to engage in multiple outdoor activities on their family camping trip, perhaps they shouldn’t turn off their television news program just yet — especially if the Zika virus is the hot topic that’s trending.
What is the Zika virus?
Zika is an illness caused by the Zika virus. Typically, it is usually mild, with the most frequent symptoms being fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week. It’s rare for someone to have to be hospitalized because of the Zika virus.
Who is vulnerable?
While anyone can contract the Zika virus, those who spend a lot of time outdoors are of course at a slightly greater risk. Pregnant women and campers should be especially cautious of the Zika virus, as it can cause very serious negative birth outcomes as well as birth defects of the brain.
How does it spread?
The Zika virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes normally lay their eggs in and near standing water. They also occupy shady areas, like wooded campgrounds and shaded campgrounds. They will also come out at night, so be sure to prepare yourself if you are tent camping.
Where is Zika now?
Currently, no one in the U.S. has been locally infected by the virus. Check your local news station for outbreaks and warnings. However, do not live in fear of Zika. Regardless of where you are, it’s important to take precautionary measures.
How do I protect myself.
Stocking up on permethrin and EPA approved bug repellent sprays is one of the biggest and best lines of defense. Spray your clothing in permethrin and let it sit overnight. Additionally, cover exposed areas of your body with Deet. If possible, try to wear long sleeves.
There’s no family vacation like a family camping vacation. That being said, don’t be afraid to get out there and enjoy yourself. With education and awareness, it’s possible to protect yourself from Zika and have a good time.