Following the announcement from the World Health Organisation that the rapid spread of the Zika virus is now a public health emergency, a study carried out by a multi-national group of scientists in the Americas reveals that the best protection against the Aedes mosquito are Picardin based insect repellents.
Scientists from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp working with experts in Cambodia tested a variety of products containing DEET, essential oils and Picaridin. The 20% Picaridin solution prevented over 98% of mosquito bites over a 5 hour period compared to the control group. The essential oil based products were only effective for an hour so did not provide sufficient protection for day or night. High levels of DEET were effective but the side effects especially in children, pregnant women and the elderly were a cause for serious concern. Even fit young troops have been known to become feverish and dis-orientated using high levels of DEET.
The recently developed Picaridin mimics the plant extracts found in the pepper family and so far, it has not caused any unwelcome side-effects in children or pregnant women so it is a welcome and timely addition to the traveller’s armoury. Mosquitos are not only carriers of Zika virus but of course, are the prime source of malaria, yellow fever and other arboviruses.
At present , Zika virus is associated with the Aedes species resident in sub-tropical areas in the Americas and Asia. However, scientists are concerned that it will spread to the more common Anopheles mosquitos which are prevalent throughout the world including Southern Europe. Evidence is mounting that the link between Zika virus and the incidence of birth defects in babies most notably, microcephaly, is real. A smaller than average brain and head in the newborn prevents normal development and may even be fatal.
Up until the last few days, in infected adults, the effects were believed to be relatively mild with a rash, fever and aching joints. For athletes preparing for competition in the Olympics, even these symptoms are anything but acceptable and can cause under performance that could eliminate 4 years of hard work. The increase in Guillian-Barre syndrome in Colombia is even more alarming. The nervous system disorder results in hospitalisation with sufferers unable to move muscles or even breathe unaided in severe cases.
Bio-Life have just launched their EcoCitrocin spray with 20% Picaridin to offer travellers peace of mind. Packed in 100ml bottles, it complies with airport restrictions on liquids. Given the uncertainty that surrounds the spread and effects of the Zika virus, the advice is simple – better safe than sorry!
For product, help or advice, visit www.bio-life.co.uk or ring the Bio-Life Helpline on 01608 686626 (open 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week).