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Not all bug sprays equal

(Reuters Health) – Pay attention to the ingredients of bug sprays and other repellents because they’re not equally effective at warding off mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika virus, researchers say.

Products with DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which contains an ingredient known as PMD, are more effective at repelling the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever, and dengue, researchers found out.

Wearable devices advertised as mosquito repellents should largely be avoided, their data suggest.

With the recent outbreak of Zika virus, many mosquito repellents became best-selling products, said Immo Hansen, of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, the senior member of the research team.

“They’re very popular,” Hansen told Reuters Health, citing the number of products for sale just on Amazon.com.

For the new study, researchers purchased and tested 11 products from Amazon.com and local stores in New Mexico.

Altogether they tested five wearable devices, five sprays, and one candle, using human volunteers who hadn’t bathed or used deodorant for at least 15 hours before the experiments.

The tests were conducted in wind tunnels. Fifteen minutes after releasing the mosquitoes, the research team counted how many bugs had come close to the participant, to determine how many were attracted to the person’s smell.

Without any type of device or spray in the tunnel, about 89 to 91 percent of the mosquitoes were attracted to the volunteers, depending on how far away they sat from where the insects were released.