/>> U.S. health officials have recommended two more mosquito repellent ingredients, one of them a plant oil." src="/images/a%20mosquito.jpg" width=206 align=right>In an attempt to fight the West Nile virus U.S. health officials have recommended two more mosquito repellent ingredients, one of them a plant oil.
The virus is now in 47 of the 48 continental U.S. states, and doctors have no treatment for the sometimes fatal disease. Mosquito repellents are usually considered the top weapon against it, but studies have found that only about 40 percent of people use repellents, in particular in California, which had 771 cases last year, the highest number of any U.S. state.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now added the chemical picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus to its list of ingredients to ward off West Nile-carrying mosquitoes after years of favouring the chemical DEET. These ingredients, which have been used elsewhere in the world for years, will hopefully increase the chance that people will use repellents to protect against West Nile by giving them more available options, says Dr. Emily Zielinski-Gutierrez, a CDC scientist.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus, is likely to be favoured by people who do not like to put chemicals on their skin or dislike the door of DEET, and is as effective as low-concentration DEET products. Picaridin has been an ingredient in repellents in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia for years, and can be as effective as DEET, says the CDC.
West Nile virus is common in north Africa and parts of Europe and the Middle East, and first appeared in the United States in 1999, it quickly spread across the continent. Last year 2,470 cases were reported to the CDC.
Eighty percent of people who are infected with West Nile show no signs of it, while 20 percent have symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. About 1 in 150 will become severely ill, which could include high fever, stupor, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss and paralysis.