SINGAPORE - An experimental mosquito repellant deterred the blood-sucking insects for as long as 73 days, more than four times longer than marketed products, in a study that may help prevent diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
Scientists at the University of Florida tested 34 repellants on two volunteers in a laboratory who wore the chemicals on cloth patches stuck to a glove, which they inserted into a box containing about 500 insects for one minute. One chemical warded off the bugs for 73 days, compared with 17 1/2 days for the chemical DEET, which has been used as a repellant for 50 years, the authors wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If commercialized, the research may help health officials around the world stem the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, which sicken more than 550 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Global warming will put millions more at risk, as increases in rainfall, temperature, and humidity enable disease-spreading mosquitoes to breed to higher altitudes, the United Nations said in a November report.