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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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West Nile Virus: Questions and Answers

How to Stay Safe This Summer as West Nile Spreads

What protections do consumers need to take? Who is most likely to get West Nile in areas that are active right now? continued...

Anyone who lives in an area where the virus is circulating can get infected. The risk of infection is in general higher for people who work outside or participate in lots of outdoor activities, especially during dawn and dusk, when the activity is greatest, because they're just more likely to be exposed to mosquitos.

Once somebody is infected, there are some people who have greater risk for getting diseased with West Nile virus, and those are people who are older adults, over 50 or 60 years of age, and those with certain medical conditions, like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and organ transplant recipients.

We know that DEET is the most effective way to prevent against West Nile, but some people have concerns using it. Do any of the more natural products work?

There are a number of EPA-registered products that provide relatively long-lasting protection. Those include DEET [...] as well as some products called picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535. Oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are derived from natural materials, and they are classified as bio-pesticides by EPA.

No matter which of these products you're going to use, the most important thing is that you read the directions for that specific repellent because even the amount of that active [ingredient] that's in the product that you're using will vary, so you want to follow the directions as to how much to apply and how often to reapply it.

DEET, of all the products, has the longest track record and information regarding its effectiveness and safety. I can understand that some people want to use other products, but there are no specific concerns that we have with regards to the use of DEET when it's used according to the label.

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