Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Insect repellents more important than ever as tropical tourism increases

Date:
June 2, 2014
Source:
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Summary:
New research on DEET safety assessments is published on the first ever Insect Repellent Awareness Day. Authors recommend applying repellents containing 20-50% DEET to the skin when in countries with diseases spread by insects, such as malaria and dengue fever. Although medicine and vaccines can prevent some diseases, they don't prevent them all: in those cases, stopping the bite in the first place is the best line of defense.

Holidaymakers are being urged to use insect repellent to protect themselves against bites and the diseases they can spread, as trends show travel to tropical countries is rising among Britons.

Related Articles


With the World Cup starting in Brazil next week and holiday season about to get under way, scientists from repellent testing facility arctec at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine today launch Bug Off -- the first ever Insect Repellent Awareness Day to highlight the issue.

They recommend applying repellents containing 20-50% DEET to the skin when in countries with diseases spread by insects, such as malaria and dengue fever. Although medicine and vaccines can prevent some diseases, they don't prevent them all: in those cases, stopping the bite in the first place is the best line of defense.

People have expressed concerns about the safety of DEET which led to a number of investigations. However, the scientists behind Bug Off have carried out a review of published studies and conclude that there is insufficient evidence to show that DEET is unsafe. They also conclude that the benefits of avoiding disease-spreading insect bites outweigh any theoretical risks associated with applying DEET to the skin. The review is published today in the open access journal Parasites and Vectors.

In their analysis of animal research and other safety assessments carried out previously, the School researchers conclude that there is no evidence of association between severe adverse events and recommended DEET use.

They also looked at case reports of people suffering encephalopathy (brain condition) following exposure to DEET in the 1980s. The researchers state that, even when allowing for underreporting, "the incidence of 14 reported cases of DEET-associated encephalopathy since 1957 is small when considered against the context of an estimated 200 million applications of DEET worldwide each year."

According to separate analysis by experts from the School of overseas travel, the number of visits by Britons to tropical countries went up by two million between 2002 and 2012 (4.02m to 6.03m).

This situation means even more people need to be able to access the correct facts and advice about insect bite risks and prevention -- whether it is students spending a gap year in Africa or tourists going on a two-week holiday.

Brazil, for example, has dengue fever -- a viral infection that is transmitted to humans by Aedes mosquitoes which can cause life-threatening illness. As there is no cure and no vaccine against the disease, repellents are the number one protection. It is winter in Brazil at the moment which means the risk is lower in most areas but football fans travelling to the country are still advised to apply effective repellent frequently.

Insect Repellent Awareness Day aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about how to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects which can leave people at risk of harm to their health. The Bug Off campaign also involves an educational outreach programme, including school visits and a poster competition which opens today.

Key facts on insect repellents:

  • If you are travelling to countries with diseases spread by insects then using insect repellents containing DEET is recommended.
  • DEET -- a repellent applied to the skin to repel biting insects -- should not be confused with DDT, which is an insecticide designed to kill insects.
  • There is no evidence that changes in diet, for example eating marmite or garlic, will prevent biting.
  • Repellents wear off in time and need to be reapplied, especially in warm climates and during activities that involve a lot of movement.
  • Preventing biting is not only important against disease, but nuisance biting even in the UK can lead to infections due to scratching.

Dr James Logan, Senior Lecturer in Medical Entomology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Director of arctec, said: "Biting arthropods can transmit a whole range of diseases to humans and it is vital to protect ourselves. Vaccines and treatments are available for some diseases but not all and so the best way to keep as safe as possible is to use an insect repellent containing DEET and reapply it regularly.

"We want people to enjoy their holidays and tropical trips -- we don't want them ruined by illness so we want to do all we can to help inform and educate people about the facts rather than the many myths surrounding this issue.

"Our work involves researching how, why and when insects transmit disease and we also teach courses on all aspects of biting insects, vector-borne diseases and travel health.

"We hope Insect Repellent Awareness Day will cause people to stop and think this summer and pack their repellents. This year we will be working with schools and young children and we hope the campaign will grow in the future."

Dr Ron Behrens, Consultant in Travel Medicine and Senior Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "Travellers often underestimate the need for and application of repellents.

"I always encourage them to take along enough supplies of repellent and always carry a bottle with them when out and about to maintain protection throughout the day and evening.

"If bites do happen, make sure they don't become infected by applying an antiseptic and try to avoid scratching them."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vanessa Chen-Hussey, Ron Behrens, James G Logan. Assessment of methods used to determine the safety of the topical insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET). Parasites & Vectors, 2014; 7 (1): 173 DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-7-173

Cite This Page:

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "Insect repellents more important than ever as tropical tourism increases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602204559.htm>.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. (2014, June 2). Insect repellents more important than ever as tropical tourism increases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602204559.htm
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "Insect repellents more important than ever as tropical tourism increases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602204559.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins