What to know before you lather on the bug spray

Clearing up confusion about the most effective bug sprays

SAN ANTONIO - "Do I look for DEET?" "How much?" "What about sprays with labels about West Nile?"

These may be questions you ask yourself when choosing a bug spray to ward off mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus.

Two more deaths from the illness were announced Thursday -- one in El Paso and one in Dallas County.

At least 46 deaths have been reported statewide.

That has many people reaching for bug sprays to protect themselves. But what should you know before you buy?

You may have noticed that some sprays say on the label “repels mosquitoes that may carry West Nile,” while others do not.

So is one a better choice than the other?

Simply put, no.

As long as you look for sprays with an active ingredient of DEET or Picaridin, you should be protected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a spray that contains 20 percent DEET should protect you for roughly four hours.

Despite the number of infections we’ve seen this summer most mosquitoes don’t carry West Nile, according to ER Dr. Bob Frolichstein at Methodist Hospital.

“Of those who get infected, only about 20 percent of them are going to have any illness whatsoever,” said Frolichstein.

That means you could be infected with West Nile and never actually get sick.

Symptoms include body aches, headaches, fever, and nausea.

Anyone with a lowered immune system should especially use bug spray that contains DEET to ward off any bites. However, Frolichstein says DEET should not be used on infants younger than two years old.


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