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Expert: As Local Zika Spreads, Do Not Overuse Bug Spray

Pixabay/Public Domain
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Toxicologists say Floridians using mosquito repellent for Zika virus prevention should not overuse it. Mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County are transmitting the illness, which is linked to birth defects. And misusing repellent could cause some health issues, too.

Most mosquito repellents contain the chemical DEET, like OFF!, Cutterand Sawyer. A study done in the late1990sshowed that when pregnant women used products withDEET as directed, they and their babies were just fine.

AlfredAleguasis director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa. He said, though, it is possible to suffer side effects from applying high concentrations ofDEETand then not washing it off.

"Some of the severest effects, kids have had seizures," said Aleguas. "The high concentrations over a large area and repeated applications sort of thing... If you take a shower once a day and you wash it off, then that's not gonna be an issue."

He said the A merican Academy of Pediatrics recommends repellents containing less than 10 percent ofDEETfor kids. And for everyone else,Aleguassaid, all repellents are safe when following directions.

Below is a study into the safety of DEET in pregnant women: 

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Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of All Things Consideredfor WGCU News.