Free Cans of 'Off' to Fight Zika in Texas

Texas women who are on Medicaid can get mosquito repellent for free


Texas state officials will give two cans of repellent per month through Oct. 31 to women between the ages of 10 and 45.

Women must show a doctor’s prescription for the repellent and Medicaid prescription card at the pharmacy. Women covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP-Perinate, Healthy Texas Women and the state Family Planning Program also qualify.

Pregnant women are most at risk because the virus can cause microcephaly — a birth defect characterized by stunted brain development.

“I am a big, big champion of insect repellent because it is something that individuals can undertake,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the American-Statesman on Wednesday.

“If you just use the insect repellent and keep from being bit by mosquitoes, that’s going to break that chain of transmission.”

The state also has created eight so-called Zika response teams which are ready to deploy if Texas mosquitoes start spreading the virus. They are tasked with helping investigations, evaluating environments for mosquito activity and going door to door to warn of the virus, among other response efforts.