As fears continue to rise concerning the Zika virus, those who own and manage athletic fields may periodically hear questions — often from concerned athletes, parents or spectators — as to whether sufficient precautions are being taken. And while only certain mosquitoes transmit Zika (and those have been identified in specific areas), proactive measures can be taken to lower the risk of mosquitoes as a whole. While commercial mosquito control companies have begun to market their services for spraying or fogging areas for athletic competitions, the CDC has noted the following:
- There is no current vaccine for Zika virus; therefore, preventive measures are key.
- Mosquitoes need standing water to breed. As long as field drainage is sufficient (this applies to both natural and synthetic fields), water will not puddle on the surface and attract mosquitoes. Field managers should make periodic checks, and should also look outside the playing area where puddles might form.
- Encourage athletes, spectators and others to wear approved mosquito repellents. The CDC recommends EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or p-Menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Long sleeves and long pants provide additional barriers to mosquitoes but may not be practical for athletes.
- For full recommendations, as well as maps on where Zika is currently being found, go to the CDC online.