My name is Shay Skobeleva, and I invented the design for the Zika Shield Portable Mosquito Net.
Like most people, I hate mosquitoes. While I was working on my degree in Genetics at the University of Rochester, I would spend my summers volunteering at Caltech’s Hay Lab. Our research was to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, by genetically engineering mosquitoes that can only survive if they carry disease-hesitance genes, and thus cannot transmit disease to humans.
Mosquitoes are a problem. They kill nearly a million people each year through diseases like Dengue Fever and Malaria. And now Zika Virus is spreading rapidly through much of the world. The diagram below shows all the parts of the world where the local mosquitoes can carry and spread Zika Virus.
At the time I’m writing this, in February of 2017, there are over 41,000 reported cases in the US States and Territories. Not to mention, the 70+ other countries where Zika is currently found.
As people continue to travel and catch Zika abroad, the likelihood increases that the local mosquitoes will catch and begin to transmit Zika virus. What’s more is that Zika can also be sexually transmitted, and has even been documented to transmit through contact with sweat.
Zika Virus is of special concern because of the effect that it has on pregnant women. If a pregnant woman contracts Zika virus, it is likely that her unborn baby will develop microcephaly, or a very small head and under-developed brain. If she carries the pregnancy to term, it is unlikely that the child will survive. And if it does, it will most likely be severely disabled.
In men and in non-pregnant women, Zika’s symptom’s vary. It can present with flu-like symptoms, or it can have much more serious consequences, such as Guillan-Barre Syndrome, or a kind of full body paralysis.
This is why it’s important to prevent as many cases of Zika as possible.
I invented the Zika Shield Portable Mosquito Net because I wanted there to be a quick, low-cost solution to prevent physical contact with mosquitoes. Bed nets have proven to be an effective way of combating Malaria, but they only protect you at night, and in bed. I wanted to take the same concept, but make it effective during the daytime, too.
I decided to modify the design of the bed net to have an adjustable opening, so it could fit over any umbrella or wide-brimmed hat. I also decided to seal up the opening on the side, so it would be a complete cylinder that can offer mosquito protection on all sides. And finally, I had to add a weighting system to the bottom edge, so it wouldn’t blow around in the breeze.
I did my best to use only materials that the average person can obtain and use easily. My first prototype was made in just a few hours, out of an old wedding veil, string, some rocks, and some rubber bands.
Of course, those in areas with Zika should also use additional mosquito protection methods, such as insect repellent spray.
My design is patent-pending, thanks to the generosity of the Woods Oviatt Gilman law firm in Rochester, NY.
However, in the interest of Public Health, I am releasing the designs, free for personal and non commercial use.
Any individual, family, company, or organization is free to use my design as they see fit, as long as the final product is not sold.
Those wishing to use the design for commercial purposes should contact me with questions about licensing, at OfficialZikaShield@gmail.com.
Thanks for reading!