Is Lanai Screening Proof Against Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes?

A fine netting will work, but the level of effectiveness depends on several key details, including understanding the insect’s breeding behavior.

One key point to make about the mosquito that carries Zika, Aedes aegypti—it prefers to feed during the daytime, so simply covering your bed with a screened canopy won’t guarantee your safety. That being said, any screen used should be of fine netting, about 1200 holes per inch.

pool lanai photo
Photo by Wicker Paradise

In Gulf States, such as Florida, residents are already familiar with outdoor “lanai” living spaces, pools and patios covered with screened in frames, as pictured in the image at right.

For Zika,  it’s important to take the Lanai concept to a higher level. There’s no room for error. Netting should extend all the way to the ground, and if possible be slightly buried, tied down, or both. Any rips should be patched, and any standing water inside the linnai (other than chlorine-treated pools and hot tubs) should be removed.

The Bite that Keeps on Reproducing

As explains the Zika virus carriers live two to three weeks, andin that time, females that have sucked viral blood produce a huge number of infected offspring:

After taking a blood meal, female Aedes aegypti mosquitos produce on average 100 to 200 eggs per batch. The females can produce up to five batches of eggs during a lifetime. The number of eggs is dependent on the size of the bloodmeal. Eggs are laid on damp surfaces in areas likely to temporarily flood, such as tree holes and man-made containers like barrels, drums, jars, pots, buckets, flower vases, plant saucers, tanks, discarded bottles, tins, tyres, water cooler, etc. and a lot more places where rain-water collects or is stored. The female Aedes aegypti lays her eggs separately unlike most species. Not all eggs are laid at once, but they can be spread out over hours or days, depending on the availability of suitable substrates. Eggs will most often be placed at varying distances above the water line. The female mosquito will not lay the entire clutch at a single site, but rather spread out the eggs over several sites.

Will Your Neighbors Infect You?

Probably not. Unless you a. have sex with them, or b. get a blood transusion from them. On the other hand, if you encounter someone with the Zika virus, a mosquito biting that person, and then you, may very well give you the virus. Thus the frighteningly rapid spread of Zika in places such as Puerto Rico.

Infected humans are the main carriers and multipliers of the virus, and serving as a source of the virus for uninfected mosquitoes. The virus circulates in the blood of infected humans for two to seven days, at approximately the same time that they have a fever (see also clinical symptoms). Aedes mosquitoes may acquire the virus when they feed on an individual during this period.

Researchers don’t yet have a full understanding of how Zika is transferred. We know that men can give it to women sexually, and a new case suggests that women can also give it to men. The virus has been found in bodily fluids also, but researchers don’t yet know if these can transmit Zika.

Coming back around to your Lanai. Assuming your netting is completely sealed, what happens if your neighbor’s infected kids go for a swim, leave behind some mucus, cut a knee open. Will the chlorine kill the virus. Would it be potentially transmittable. This is not to instill panic, merely sensible caution, until more is known. Keep your Lanai tight, your land high and dry, and if you like, sign up for UPDATES form Resilient Times.

Featured Photo by Kolin Toney

Photo by Kolin Toney

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