The New York Attorney General has issued a cease-and-desist order on hucksters using fraudulent marketing to claim they can protect against Zika transmission. Unsurprisingly, these woo claims cater to the mindset that believes all chemicals are bad and some natural approach is better.
Each of the seven companies that were issued cease and desist letters advertised either ultrasonic devices or botanical oil-based products with claims that the products would prevent or protect against the Zika virus by repelling mosquitoes even though the products contain no EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients known to work, which are DEET, Picaridin (KBR 3023, Bayrepel and icaridin), IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and Para-Menthane-Diol. Even Joe Mercola and Environmental Working Group don't claim that other stuff helps. We hope.
The seven products they sent letters to companies about are:
- Wildheart Outdoors Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
- MosQUITo Repellent Bracelet Wristband Band
- Neor Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
- Kenza High Quality Zika Mosquito Repellent Smiley Patch
- Mobile Pro Gear ZIKA Shield Mosquito Repellent Bands
- STAR Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
- iGear iGuard 2.0 Ultrasonic Insect Pest Repellent
The makers of ultrasonic devices claim that they repel mosquitoes by emitting a high frequency buzz. Not only does that not repel mosquitoes, it may even attract them. The makers of botanical oil-based products - the wrist bands, bracelets, patches and stickers - claim that they repel mosquitoes but oil of geranium, cedar, lemongrass, soy and citronella are not something you should risk your health on. Vitamin B-based repellents don't do anything at all.
What the government is leaving out is that mosquitoes are not the most likely method of transmission in the U.S. anyway. Sexual contact is. So wear condoms if your partner has been to an afflicted country. For most people Zika will only mean mild fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) but it is a serious threat to women who are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, because it may cause microcephaly, a serious birth defect that affects brain development in babies.