DEET Is the Most Effective Bug Spray. But Is It Safe?

Sure, itchy bug bites are a nuisance. But for those living in parts of the country where mosquito or tick-borne illnesses are common—and these days, that’s most of us—bug-repellent sprays and liquids are an important safeguard against Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other serious health conditions. The annual number of people sickened by mosquitos or tick bites has more than tripled since 2004, according to the CDC. The World Health Organization has concluded that climate change is a likely contributor to these increases, which are predicted to continue as warmer global temperatures expand the habitats of mosquitos, ticks and other disease-spreading bugs. For all of these reasons, more and more people are looking for safe and effective ways to keep biting bugs at bay. And a 2002 New England Journal of Medicine study concluded that the chemical N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide—more commonly known as DEET—is among the most effective ways to prevent bites. “I use DEET all the time when I’m working in the field,” says Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida. DEET seems to work by binding to CO2 receptors in the nose-like appendage a mosquito uses to probe a person’s skin for blood, Day says. Rather than kill the mosquito, DEET somehow blocks the insect’s ability to feed. “It works on contact—not on smell—so mosquitos will still land on you but they won’t bite,”...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized healthytime Research Source Type: news

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