By: Dr. McDonald
Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West
Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.
Parents should protect themselves and their children from diseases spread
by mosquitoes. Although most people do not become sick after a bite from
an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely)
severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can
Individuals are at risk when they are outside when mosquitoes are biting,
especially after dusk and before dawn. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.
Families should decrease mosquito populations at home by emptying buckets,
bottles, and barrels that collect water and placing drain holes in containers
that collect water and cannot be discarded.
Families can keep mosquitoes out of the house by ensuring that doors and
windows have screens and are kept closed when possible.
Using EPA-registered insect repellents on exposed skin and clothing and
by wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts minimizes the risk of being bitten.
CDC recommends the use of products containing active ingredients which
have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing. Of the products registered
with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of
lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting
protection. Permethrin is a repellent and insecticide. Certain products
containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed
nets, and camping gear. Permethrin-treated products repel and kill ticks,
mosquitoes, and other arthropods. These products continue to repel and
kill insects after several washings. Permethrin should be reapplied following
the label instructions
Repellents containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically
provide longer-lasting protection. Regardless of what product you use,
if you start to get mosquito bites, reapply the repellent according to
the label instructions.
Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the
product label). Do not apply repellents under your clothing. Never use
repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Do not apply to eyes or
mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using repellent sprays, do
not spray directly on your face—spray on your hands first and then
apply to your face. Most products can be used on children. Products containing
oil of lemon eucalyptus should not to be used on children under the age
of three years. EPA does not recommend any additional precautions for
using registered repellents on children other than those listed above.
Do not allow children to handle or spray the product. When using on children,
apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. Avoid applying
repellent to children’s hands because children frequently put their
hands in their eyes and mouths. Use just enough repellent to cover exposed
skin and/or clothing. Heavy application does not give you better or longer
After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe.
This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in
a day or on consecutive days.
If you (or your child) get a rash or other reaction from a repellent, stop
using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water,
and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go
to a doctor, it might be helpful to take the repellent with you.