Which Mosquito Repellents Can Protect You Against Zika Virus?

By Maria Fe Lapitan-Realista , Sep 23, 2016 10:01 PM EDT

Mosquito repellents are, so far, the best shield against disease-carrying mosquitoes in an effort to avoid being bitten.  Now, the question is - which repellents are effective and reliable for adults, children, and pregnant women that can be applied for a long period of time and without adverse effects?

The Answer Is Not Straightforward

There are several reasons as to why it is hard to pinpoint which repellents are effective. Forbes has dug into the response to this question by Terumailai Kumala, an Immunologist, via Quora. Kamala points out that, for one, repellents are volatile, which keep mosquitoes at bay at first but soon the effect wanes. Other deterrents for most repellents are factors such as formulation (how fast it evaporates and how deep it penetrates the skin), which could lessen the effectiveness of the repellent, intrinsic factors (such as sweating) and external factors (e.g. warm weather, high wind speed).

Three Ingredients To Look For

Consumer Reports has conducted tests to determine the best repellents against Zika virus. One particular test covered by CBS New York was participated by brave volunteers who put their arms into a cage full of 200 disease-free mosquitoes of two types: Culex mosquito that carries West Nile and the other is the Aedes mosquito that carries Zika. The results showed three ingredients that are safe for everyone, including pregnant women: Deet, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and Picaridin.

Further tests by Consumer Reports have found that the most effective repellants are those that contain at least 20% picaridin and those that contain 25% Deet. These repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting for about 7 to 8 hours.

Repellents To Skip

Repellents that are made with natural plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass oil, rosemary oil, geraniol, and cinnamon oil were not effective in the study conducted by Consumer Reports. Considering that they pose minimum risk to human health, these products are also not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates the safety and effectiveness of skin-applied repellents.

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