In response to the wide spread of mosquito-borne diseases throughout the world, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has revised missionary dress standards to allow sister missionaries in select areas to wear pants.
The guideline adjustment, announced Friday, May 20, 2016, is unique for sisters and comes at a time when viral diseases such as Dengue Fever, Zika, and Chikungunya are rampant throughout the world. Roughly half of the Church’s missions (230) worldwide have a significant risk of mosquito-borne diseases. Missionaries in these areas are highly encouraged to wear clothing that covers exposed skin, especially arms and legs. Sisters serving in affected missions are now encouraged to wear full-length dress slacks during proselyting activities. Skirts and dresses will continue to be required at the temple or during worship services. These new guidelines apply only during wet seasons when the risk for mosquito-carried illnesses is high.
The Church also announced today that it will now pay for insecticide solution and repellent containing DEET for all missionaries worldwide.
“We are encouraging and training our missionary force to implement these preventative measures and would also encourage the general membership to consider these measures for themselves and their families,” stated Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, assistant executive director in the Missionary Department and chairperson of the Missionary Medical Health Services Division.
The First Presidency further recommended that missionaries avoid stagnant and standing water, particularly around residential areas and in their apartments.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently 544 reported U.S. cases of the Zika virus alone, which has received recent and widespread media attention.