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      Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito bites.

      The New England journal of medicine

      analogs & derivatives, administration & dosage, beta-Alanine, Plants, Male, Insecticides, Insect Vectors, Insect Repellents, prevention & control, Insect Bites and Stings, Humans, Female, DEET, Culicidae, Animals

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          Abstract

          The worldwide threat of arthropod-transmitted diseases, with their associated morbidity and mortality, underscores the need for effective insect repellents. Multiple chemical, botanical, and "alternative" repellent products are marketed to consumers. We sought to determine which products available in the United States provide reliable and prolonged complete protection from mosquito bites. We conducted studies involving 15 volunteers to test the relative efficacy of seven botanical insect repellents; four products containing N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, now called N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET); a repellent containing IR3535 (ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate); three repellent-impregnated wristbands; and a moisturizer that is commonly claimed to have repellent effects. These products were tested in a controlled laboratory environment in which the species of the mosquitoes, their age, their degree of hunger, the humidity, the temperature, and the light-dark cycle were all kept constant. DEET-based products provided complete protection for the longest duration. Higher concentrations of DEET provided longer-lasting protection. A formulation containing 23.8 percent DEET had a mean complete-protection time of 301.5 minutes. A soybean-oil-based repellent protected against mosquito bites for an average of 94.6 minutes. The IR3535-based repellent protected for an average of 22.9 minutes. All other botanical repellents we tested provided protection for a mean duration of less than 20 minutes. Repellent-impregnated wristbands offered no protection. Currently available non-DEET repellents do not provide protection for durations similar to those of DEET-based repellents and cannot be relied on to provide prolonged protection in environments where mosquito-borne diseases are a substantial threat.

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          Most cited references 13

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          The outbreak of West Nile virus infection in the New York City area in 1999.

          In late August 1999, an unusual cluster of cases of meningoencephalitis associated with muscle weakness was reported to the New York City Department of Health. The initial epidemiologic and environmental investigations suggested an arboviral cause. Active surveillance was implemented to identify patients hospitalized with viral encephalitis and meningitis. Cerebrospinal fluid, serum, and tissue specimens from patients with suspected cases underwent serologic and viral testing for evidence of arboviral infection. Outbreak surveillance identified 59 patients who were hospitalized with West Nile virus infection in the New York City area during August and September of 1999. The median age of these patients was 71 years (range, 5 to 95). The overall attack rate of clinical West Nile virus infection was at least 6.5 cases per million population, and it increased sharply with age. Most of the patients (63 percent) had clinical signs of encephalitis; seven patients died (12 percent). Muscle weakness was documented in 27 percent of the patients and flaccid paralysis in 10 percent; in all of the latter, nerve conduction studies indicated an axonal polyneuropathy in 14 percent. An age of 75 years or older was an independent risk factor for death (relative risk adjusted for the presence or absence of diabetes mellitus, 8.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 59.1), as was the presence of diabetes mellitus (age-adjusted relative risk, 5.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 17.3). This outbreak of West Nile meningoencephalitis in the New York City metropolitan area represents the first time this virus has been detected in the Western Hemisphere. Given the subsequent rapid spread of the virus, physicians along the eastern seaboard of the United States should consider West Nile virus infection in the differential diagnosis of encephalitis and viral meningitis during the summer months, especially in older patients and in those with muscle weakness.
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            Mosquitoes and mosquito repellents: a clinician's guide.

             Mark Fradin (1998)
            This paper is intended to provide the clinician with the detailed and scientific information needed to advise patients who seek safe and effective ways of preventing mosquito bites. For this review, clinical and analytical data were selected from peer-reviewed research studies and review articles, case reports, entomology texts and journals, and government and industry publications. Relevant information was identified through a search of the MEDLINE database, the World Wide Web, the Mosquito-L electronic mailing list, and the Extension Toxicology Network database; selected U.S. Army, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Agriculture publications were also reviewed. N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) is the most effective, and best studied, insect repellent currently on the market. This substance has a remarkable safety profile after 40 years of worldwide use, but toxic reactions can occur (usually when the product is misused). When DEET-based repellents are applied in combination with permethrin-treated clothing, protection against bites of nearly 100% can be achieved. Plant-based repellents are generally less effective than DEET-based products. Ultrasonic devices, outdoor bug "zappers," and bat houses are not effective against mosquitoes. Highly sensitive persons may want to take oral antihistamines to minimize cutaneous reactions to mosquito bites.
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              Techniques for the evaluation of insect repellents: a critical review.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                12097535
                10.1056/NEJMoa011699

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