SC Johnson Introduces West Nile Virus Education Center; Research and Resources Dedicated to Preventing This Mosquito-Borne Disease

RACINE, Wis. -- While mosquitoes can be pests during outdoor activities, they can also be carriers of West Nile virus, a potentially fatal disease that claimed more than 200 lives last year.(1)

In preparation for this year's mosquito season, SC Johnson is introducing a new center to help educate the public and advance the science on topics related to the prevention of West Nile virus. The OFF! West Nile Virus Education Center is a division of SC Johnson's Entomology Research Center, the largest, state-of-the-art private entomology research facility in the United States.

Experts at the center will be able to provide publicly available research and education materials on West Nile virus.

"You might say that bugs are our business, and they have been for more than 40 years," said Robert J. Kopanic, PhD, a research scientist at the OFF! West Nile Virus Education Center. "We're dedicated to this issue and we want to play our role in protecting the public. Prevention is critical, so we're hoping to raise awareness of the steps you can take to avoid mosquito-borne illness."

SC Johnson has been at the forefront of strategies to protect against mosquitoes and other biting insects. For more than 40 years, the company has been a leader in producing personal repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl- meta-toluamide), the most effective and best-studied insect repellent available.(2)

To protect against West Nile virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using DEET -- citing studies that indicate only products that contain DEET offer long-lasting protection after a single application. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (3) concluded that DEET is the most effective insect repellent on the market. The authors of the study describe DEET as the "gold standard" of protection against mosquitoes that could transmit disease.

"Fears over West Nile virus shouldn't keep people from enjoying the nice weather and spending time outdoors," said Kopanic. "You just need to take certain precautions, such as spraying a DEET-based repellent on your clothing and exposed skin before any outdoor activities."

Kopanic predicts that West Nile virus may likely follow the same pattern as last year -- with confirmed cases beginning in the spring and peaking toward the end of summer. His hope is that the problem will not appear in epidemic proportions like last year -- with nearly 4,000 cases reported (4) -- due in part to the increased awareness of the benefits of DEET-based repellents.

The OFF! West Nile Virus Education Center recommends the following steps to protect against West Nile virus this year:

-- Use a DEET-based repellent. When you go outdoors, apply an insect

repellent that contains DEET to your exposed skin. Look in the

ingredient list for N,N-diethy-meta-toluamide. According to the CDC,

repellents containing a higher concentration of an active ingredient

(such as DEET) provide longer-lasting protection.

-- Watch out for standing water. Mosquitoes breed in swamps, ponds and

anything that holds water. To minimize mosquitoes around your home,

change water in birdbaths at least twice a week, empty children's pools

when not in use, drain water from pool covers and clean out your rain

gutters regularly.

-- Cover up. Whenever possible, wear protective clothing such as long

sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors. Also, wear light-colored

clothes since mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors that absorb more

heat.

-- Spray your clothing. In addition to your exposed skin, spray your

clothes with repellents containing DEET because mosquitoes can bite

through thin material.

-- Keep them out. Fix or install window and door screens so mosquitoes

cannot get indoors. Place mosquito netting over infant carriers to

protect your baby when you are outdoors.

-- Be cautious during peak biting time. Be careful after a heavy rain,

during periods of heavy cloud cover and between dusk and dawn, when

mosquitoes are most active.

For more information about how to protect yourself against West Nile virus, visit www.mosquitoes.com .

References:

(1) As of January 22, 2003 these are the human case totals that have been

reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Arbonet

or compiled in direct communication with state and local health

officials.

(2) Fradin MS and Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents

against mosquito bites. N Engl J Med. 2002; 347:13-8.

(3) Fradin MS and Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents

against mosquito bites. N Engl J Med. 2002; 347:13-8.

(4) As of January 22, 2003 these are the human case totals that have been

reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Arbonet

or compiled in direct communication with state and local health

officials.

Source: SC Johnson

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