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Zika-How to protect yourself

Best Insect Repellents to Protect Against Zika Virus 


Zika infection is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Prevention plays a crucial role in deterring its spread as there is currently no available treatment. The Center of Disease Control recommends limiting travel to high risk areas, using protective clothing, mosquito control outside and inside the home and applying topical insect repellent. However  choosing the right bug spray can be a challenging and confusing process due to the vast number of products available over the counter.


Insect repellents sold in the US are required to be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. This process requires data documenting the efficacy and safety of the repellent both to humans and to the environment.  Although numerous active ingredients are available on the market, The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend DEET(N


According to the EPA, DEET has low toxicity; it can be safely used in children, pregnant women and adults without any age restriction.  The concentration of DEET in an insect repellent is important, since a higher concentration correlates with longer duration of protection.


Recently Consumer Reports evaluated and compared several insect repellents against Aedes mosquitoes.  Below is a summary of the most recommended effective products.


Products                         Active Ingredients                            Features


Off Deep Woods VIII             DEET 25%                              8-hour duration


Bens 30% DEET Tick             DEET 30%                              7.5-hour duration

and Insect Wilderness



Sawyer Family Insect              DEET 20%                              11-hour duration

Repellent                                                                                 Timed-release product


Natrapel                                   Picaridin 20%                          8-hour duration


Repel Lemon                           Oil of Lemon                           7-hour duration

Eucalyptus                               Eucalyptus 30%



I hope you find this information helpful. 

Thuy Pham, MD, FAAP

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