Disney World Accelerates Efforts To Prevent Zika, Starts Mass Distribution Of Insect Repellent

Walt Disney World announced that it will strengthen its efforts to address the Zika scare by distributing complimentary insect repellent to all guests of the parks and resorts. Staff members whose task is to hand out the repellent will be assigned at various stations. Guest rooms will now have aerosol cans too.

Zika Virus Mosquitoes

Disney released the following statement according to Orlando Sentinel.

“In an abundance of caution, we are accelerating preventative efforts throughout our property, including providing complimentary insect repellent to our Guests along with helpful guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We have an extensive mosquito-prevention and monitoring program in place, and we continue to work closely with local, state and federal experts on this topic.”

Apart from Disney, other theme parks have also introduced programs to combat Zika. Universal Studios claims to already have “an aggressive, destination-wide prevention and management program in place for mosquitoes and other environmental issues.”

Like the two, Sea World Parks & Entertainment will offer guests EPA-approved repellent. The Miami Zoological Wildlife Foundation has started a mass distribution of personal-sized repellent for guests touring the private zoo. The zoo’s staff also conducts regular inspection to ensure that the property has no standing water.

The Food and Drug Administration has suggested screening the U.S. blood supply to ensure that it’s devoid of the virus. Blood collection facilities like American Red Cross are urged to follow the recommendation.

As reported by the Guardian, British officials have warned pregnant women to avoid non-essential travels to Florida that will increase their risk of contracting the virus.

“Pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential travel to affected areas until after the pregnancy. At present, only a zone of about one square mile in Miami-Dade county is considered to be at risk of active transmission.”

Recently, UK health officials have asked pregnant travelers to postpone their trip to the Olympics since Brazil has been affected by Zika.

Experts are also worried that a brewing storm in the Carribean will make fighting the virus more challenging. If it makes landfall in the Sunshine State, heavy rains will equate to massive breeding grounds for the virus-carrying mosquitoes. If there’s rain, there is also a high possibility for water to be collected in containers. According to NBC, local officials have advised the public to be diligent in emptying containers surrounding their property.

“Look at your property. Drain it, cover it, so that we don’t have an excess number of mosquitoes,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez warned.

The mosquitoes also thrive in dark humid places, that’s why residents may employ the use of sprays and insect foggers. Mosquitoes carrying Zika are primarily active in the daytime. If there’s need to stay outdoors during the day, people are advised to cover up or attach permethrin, which can be bought from a sports store, on their clothing.

The virus, mostly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti, currently has no cure yet and poses fear to pregnant women as it can lead to severe neurological effects to unborn children. A new research explains the terrifying effects of the Zika virus to a fetus.

Some of the effects in the babies include microcephaly (a condition where the head is abnormally small), poor motor and speech functions, as well as seizures. Eighty percent of people with Zika show no symptoms. If they do, these typically include fever, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and rashes.

Zika Effect on Babies

Theme parks in Florida are doubling their efforts to protect their guests especially after the tragedy that recently struck Disney when an alligator attacked a 2-year-old boy wading in a supposedly safe area.

Disney Alligator Signages

A new report emerged that prior to the attack, two hotel guests have alerted Disney employees about an alligator sighting. It wasn’t clear if the employees acted on the guests’ statements.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]