Companies across the U.S. have been marketing products with claims that the products prevent or protect against Zika virus even though the products are known to be ineffective for that purpose.
These companies advertise ultrasonic devices or botanical oil-based products with claims that the products would prevent or protect against Zika virus by repelling mosquitoes even though the products contain no EPA-registered insect repellents with at least one of the five CDC-recommended active ingredients. The makers of ultrasonic devices claim that they repel mosquitoes by emitting a high frequency buzz. Numerous scientific studies have found that ultrasonic devices do not repel mosquitoes, and may even attract mosquitoes. The makers of botanical oil-based products, including wrist bands, bracelets, patches and stickers, claim that products contain ingredients that repel mosquitoes. Common botanical ingredients, including oil of geranium, cedar, lemongrass, soy and citronella and are not EPA-registered insect repellents with at least one of the five CDC-recommended active ingredients, and these products have limited effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes.
Zika virus is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes, although it can also be spread by sexual contact or blood contact. Zika virus can cause symptoms including mild fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Zika poses a serious threat to women who are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, because it may cause microcephaly, a serious birth defect that affects brain development.
To prevent bites from potentially infected mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that consumers use only EPA-registered insect repellents with at least one of the five CDC-recommended active ingredients. These repellents contain ingredients that have been clinically proven to effectively repel mosquitoes.
Consumers should avoid ultrasonic and botanical mosquito repellents, as well as Vitamin B-based repellents, which have also been found to be ineffective. Products that claim to prevent the Zika virus that contain none of CDC-approved active ingredients include:
- Wildheart Outdoors Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
- MosQUITo Repellent Bracelet Wristband Band
- Neor Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
- Kenza High Quality Zika Mosquito Repellent Smiley Patch
- Mobile Pro Gear ZIKA Shield Mosquito Repellent Bands
- STAR Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
- iGear iGuard 2.0 Ultrasonic Insect Pest Repellent
Consumers should look for EPA-registered insect repellents containing at least one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel and icaridin), IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and Para-Menthane-Diol. Only products containing at least one of these ingredients have been recommended by the CDC as the safe and effective way of protecting against the Zika virus.
Consumers should also be aware that there is no cure for the Zika virus as of this date, and products claiming to be cures are deceptive.
Consumers are also advised to follow these CDC recommendations to protect against the Zika virus:
- Avoid travel in areas with active mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus. These areas can be found on the CDC’s website.
- If one must travel to one of the identified areas, consumers should:
- Wear pants and long sleeves,
- Stay in places with air conditioning and screens on windows and doors,
- Sleep under mosquito bed nets, and
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pre-treated clothing.