Worried about Zika on your next Florida vacation? Walt Disney World and the rest of the Orlando-area theme parks don’t want you to be. Starting tomorrow, the resorts will begin offering free insect repellent to guests, in an effort to calm concern about the mosquito-borne virus.
An outbreak of the virus in South America last year sparked a media frenzy. Typically, a Zika infection results in mild symptoms, at most, potentially including headache, fever, and a rash. But pregnant women can pass the virus to their fetus, potentially resulting severe birth defects, including microcephaly. That risk has led to a global panic over travel to regions where the virus is active… which now includes parts of the Miami area.
The Orlando theme parks are several hours up the road, but with millions of visitors bringing billions of dollars to the area, the parks can’t afford to ignore the risk of the virus spreading north. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney will make various types of insect repellent available at its theme parks, starting Sunday. Disney also will make bug spray available in its hotel rooms. Universal Orlando will have repellent available at its guest services locations, and SeaWorld also will make repellent available at its parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa.
(And if you don’t immediately see exactly where the repellent is available in the parks on your visit, just ask any cast or team member. They should be able to direct you.)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “the best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites” — thus, the need for effective insect repellent. The CDC also recommends dressing in clothing that covers the arms and legs, especially for children. Covering a stroller with mosquito netting provides protection, as well. Mosquitos carry a wide range of nasty stuff, too, so even if you’re not worried about Zika, it’s never a bad idea to do what you can to avoid the bugs.
So let’s add putting on the bug spray to wearing sunscreen and drinking plenty of water to our list of theme park safety tips, to help ensure that you and your family stay safe and comfortable on your next visit to the parks.
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