The ultimate Zika protection found in various insect repellents
With concern for the Zika virus growing and some travelers headed to the Rio Summer Olympics next month, it’s important to know how to protect yourself – both at home and abroad. In light of the virus being declared an international public health emergency, Consumer Reports looked at the most effective repellents to guard against the virus.
They found that three ingredients were most effective: Deet, oil of lemon eucalyptus and Picaridin. They also screened 16 repellents and, of those, identified five which were the most reliable:
- Sawyer’s Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin. This insect repellent is safe to use on children as young as six months old as well as women who are pregnant. The lotion formula is effective for up to 14 hours and the spray for up to 12 hours.
- Ben’s 30% DEET Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula. This formula is effective for up to eight hours and provides protection against bugs that may carry Zika virus, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Malaria.
- Natrapel 8 Hour with 20 percent picaridin. This is another brand of insect repellent containing picaridin, which is safe to use on young children and pregnant women. This formula helps to fight off ticks, mosquitoes and flies.
- Off! Deepwoods VIII with 25 percent DEET. A long-lasting formula with up to eight hours of protection to help keep gnats, chiggers, flies and mosquitoes away.
- Repel Lemon Eucalyptus with 30 percent lemon eucalyptus. This DEET-free formula lasts up to six hours and has lemon eucalyptus as one of the main ingredients.
“No cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus have been acquired in the US; they have been brought over,” says Dr. Stephen Sokalski, an infectious disease doctor at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “However, there is a potential for that to occur in the southern states. These insect repellent recommendations are also valid for West Nile virus, tick borne infections like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, all ailments which have occurred in the states.”
Over a thousand cases of Zika have been reported in the US, almost entirely associated with travel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 47 of the 50 states have reported cases of the virus.
While Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact from an infected male, it is mostly spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. The CDC recommends the following tips to prevent mosquito bites:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants
- Close windows and doors
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered bug spray
- Apply the insect repellents DEET and permethrin to skin and clothing as a prevention treatment
“All of these steps can help prevent bugs from spreading viruses to humans,” says Dr. Sokalski. “While outdoors, wear insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin to provide protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects.”
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