Mosquitoes are known to transmit several dangerous conditions to humans, such as malaria, West Nile virus, and yellow fever. Now the Zika virus, another mosquito-borne illness, also falls in that category.

Some common symptoms of the virus are joint pain, fever, and rash.  In most cases, the disease is mild, and most people don’t even know they are infected. For pregnant women, however, the Zika virus can cause serious issues for their unborn baby.

The biggest concern for pregnant women infected with the virus is the risk of birth defects in the fetus. Serious fetal brain defects, particularly microcephaly, is the primary concern. Microcephaly is a condition in which the fetus’ head is abnormally small and can result in developmental delays in addition to physical abnormalities.

Because there is no vaccine for the Zika virus, the key to preventing infection lies in preventing mosquito bites. The following is a list of things you can do to reduce your chances of getting bitten when outdoors.

7 Ways To Avoid the Zika Virus

  1. Use insect repellents with DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or other EPA-evaluated active ingredient.
  2. Be sure to reapply as recommended for maximum protection.
  3. Cover as much of your body as possible with clothing. Wear long sleeves and long pants if feasible.
  4. Get rid of any standing or stagnant water nearby, as it is most likely a mosquito breeding ground.
  5. If you live in a mosquito-prone area, place citronella or eucalyptus around your yard, especially in your immediate area.  Mosquitoes are repelled by these natural substances.
  6. If your child is too young to apply commercial repellent, consider using alternatives such as Vicks VapoRub or Avon Skin-So-Soft.  Both work relatively well for deterring mosquitoes.
  7. Place mosquito netting over your baby’s stroller when exposed to mosquito-infested areas.

It would be impossible to protect yourself completely from the risk of mosquito bites. By using these strategies, however, you can significantly reduce the incidence of bites. In turn, this reduces your chances of contracting a mosquito-borne illness.