ZIKA IN THE 1st PERSON

By Yvette Cordozo

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With all this news about Zika, I went to the Florida Keys and South Florida mainland recently well protected. I had assorted bug repellents brimming with DEET, and also, a suitcase brimming with bug repellent clothing.

Clothing by the company, Insect Shield, isn’t new but its importance, now with Zika, is greater than ever.

So I arrived with two armaments ... my own clothing that had been impregnated with the company’s Permethrin (the same stuff used in lice shampoos for kids) and their own repellent clothing, including a T-shirt and a nice scarf.

The company says tests have shown their treatment repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, biting flies, chiggers and no-see-ums.

When my own shirts were returned to me after being treated, I was surprised that they felt exactly as they had before ... not stiff, still soft and with no chemical smell. The company’s own clothing ... a T-shirt and scarf ...were the same. So I was ready.

Well ... in a week, I saw not a single mosquito. The wind blew and the Keys have a seriously active mosquito eradication program. Nary a skeeter in sight.

To back this up, the Monroe County (lower edge of Florida’s peninsula and the Keys) had not, to that point, reported a single Zika case.

We did manage to scare up a single mosquito on my friend’s south Florida farm, which is on the mainland, just north of where the Keys begin. I can report that no mosquitoes were harmed in this test because our little guy didn’t come near her.

Little did I know that seeing mosquitoes isn’t always necessary.

Weeks after coming home, the first reports of Zika in Miami started making news. What rattled me was realizing that during my wanderings to the haunts of my childhood, my friends and I not only visited the involved area in Miami ... the exact week people apparently were being bitten by infected mosquitoes ... but the pregnant wife of a friend owns a bakery squarely in the center of Ground Zero.

Equally rattling, a few weeks after coming home I was scheduled for shoulder surgery. Just before being cleared for it, I was asked the standard question about whether I had visited any countries outside the US, obviously fishing for possible Zika exposure. Who knew I hadn’t needed to fly south of Florida to qualify. I wonder if the surgery would have been postponed had they known.

Meanwhile, still needing to test the insect repellent clothing, I sent the scarf with another friend heading for Brazil. Her report:

“I draped the scarf over the top of my wide-brimmed hat, tying it around the front. The bugs would approach me, but would not get any closer than about five inches and would not land on me. Not only that, but it also helped keep the sun off my face when we were sitting in a boat for an hour or more waiting for a jaguar to move. I also tried just draping it around my shoulders like you would wear a shawl, and that also worked fairly well for keeping the bugs away.”

The company has an assortment of repellent clothing: men’s and women’s shirts, T-shirts, pants, bandanas, scarves, hoodies, buffs, mini blankets.

Should I head south again, I will bring all my insect protective clothing with me. And, by the way, I have not come down with any Zika symptoms.

Learn more: http://www.insectshield.com/

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