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Zika: Choosing the Right Insect Repellent

Summer may be winding down, but we are still spending a lot of time outdoors. As such, we will continue to be exposed to biting insects, like mosquitoes. With increasing concern about the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, it is more important than ever to know the safest and most effective way to protect your family.

Skin rash is among the symptoms of Zika virus disease, according to the World Health Organization. Other symptoms include mild fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms typically last from two to seven days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to take steps to prevent mosquito bites with such things as ample clothing and insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the CDC, the repellents should have one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane- diol. DEET has demonstrated that it is the best insect repellent readily available to the consumer, and in a 20% to 50% concentration, it is effective and safe.

Consumer Reports tested repellents specifically against the Aedesspecies mosquito, which spreads the Zika virus. They found that the most effective products were Off! Deep Woods, which contains 25% DEET, as well as Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellant and Natrapel 8 Hour, each containing 20% picaridin. These products provided protection for about eight hours, and were just as effective as products with higher chemical concentrations.

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