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

Aug 22, 2016
Originally published on August 22, 2016 1:56 pm

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!, Cutter and Sawyer. A study done in the late 1990s showed that when pregnant women used products with DEET as directed, they and their babies were just fine.

Alfred Aleguas is director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa. He said, though, it is possible to suffer side effects from applying high concentrations of DEET and 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 American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repellents containing less than 10 percent of DEET for kids. And for everyone else, Aleguas said, all repellents are safe when following directions.

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

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