Amid Zika concerns, official urges repellent-infused clothing

WASHINGTON — Due to growing concern about the Zika virus, health officials advise people traveling to and from affected areas to avoid mosquitoes.  

“You can actually purchase lines of clothing that are pre-treated with insect repellent,” said Mike Raupp, entomologist at the University of Maryland, College Park. “I’ve gone to tropical rainforests in Costa Rica and Belize — where bite counts can be as high as 200 per minute — worn these [clothes], and they give very good protection.”

Depending on the manufacturer, Raupp says repellant-infused clothing can go through as many as 20 and up to 70 washings before the efficacy is lost.

While he says repellent-infused clothing works, Raupp still prefers applying personal repellents that come in many varieties and forms, such as in lotion, wipes and sprays.

“In addition to permethrin, DEET is also a very effective repellent. I often apply this to my pant legs and my boots when I’m hiking in tick infested areas,” Raupp noted.

Ticks can spread Lyme disease, another ailment of concern here and across the U.S.

Whatever method of insect repellent you choose, Raupp also recommends wearing loose-fitted, lightweight clothing that moves freely across your body to lessen chances you’ll be bitten.

“That prevents those [mosquitoes] from settling down and biting through that clothing,” Raupp said. “Tight-fitting clothing that forms to your body, the insects can simply land and bite right through.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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