A device called the OFF!® Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent is an effective tool for preventing the transmission of the Zika virus, according to a study published in Journal of Medical Entomology. According to the research, since there are no vaccines available yet, the device may be the best protection yet to prevent bites from the Aedis aegypti mosquito, the vector of Zika, dengue and yellow fever.
OFF! is an insect repellent brand from S.C. Johnson & Son, and it works by forming a “cloud” of insecticide around the user of the device through releasing the insecticide in vapour form from its battery-powered fan. A wearer can clip it on a belt, purse or chair and its head-to-toe protection lasts up to 12 hours, according to the product’s website.
Researchers Christopher S. Bibbs and Rui-De Xue of the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in Florida tested the repellent device against batches of adult nonblood-fed Aedis aegypti mosquitoes caged in 5-centimetre wide rigid paper strips attached at the ends to create a ring frame with interior openings that were covered in tulle mesh to allow air flow. They were surprised to discover that OFF! Clip-On had effective knockdown and mortality up to 0.3 metres from the device.
This was done to simulate real-world situations and the trials lasted for five to 60 minutes. Other cages were also set at 0.6 metres and 0.9 metres away but the device was not effective at distances longer than 0.3 metres.
“In vector control, we see more often than not that tools available for consumers don’t work for the intended purpose,” Bibbs says. “Just look at all the bug zappers, repellent bracelets, sonic bug repellents, and other zany creations that wax and wane in popularity. Skepticism is inherent to the trade. But it was nice for a change of pace that one of these devices could actually do some good.”