The World Health Organization has long been recommending insecticide treated nets and spraying as main steps in controlling the spread of malaria. With growing concerns from consumers regarding repellents made with synthetic ingredients, DEET free repellent in Australia, United States, UK, China, Africa, and other parts of the world is becoming a more favourable choice.
N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide or DEET has been a concern because it puts humans at risk when used. Consumers have reported skin irritation, high absorption, odour, and oily feel upon using repellents with DEET. People get even more concerned when using these in homes with children, pregnant women, elderly, and ill individuals.
Why is it taking so long?
Looking for an effective DEET free repellent in Australia, for example, can be proven a challenge because finding new compounds that can work just was well without the harms is a difficult task. This makes the process time consuming and expensive. Establishing the safety of the new chemicals is also a lengthy process as it involves different set ups and variables to test the limit of the repellents.
Additionally, there has been increasing reports of malaria infections in Africa where patients were exposed outdoors. This means that indoor protection isn’t doing enough anymore, and scientists need to find a way to mitigate the problem and protect people when they are out.
How it works
Many repellents are made with compounds mixed with oils. However, the problem is that they evaporate quickly, and needs frequent reapplication.
Scientists wanted to create an alternative that could make the repellent last longer. This was achieved by using a mixture of substances that would take longer time to evaporate, thus increasing the period of time it stays on the skin. The new formula was able to last up to six hours on the skin, and has also shown to have killed the mosquitoes that came into contact with it.
The study, however, although successful in repelling and killing malaria-carrying mosquitos, does not account for Plasmodium falciparum, a malaria-spreading parasite that has developed resistance against existing methods. The scientists believe that further research needs to be done to address said problem, but the new formulation is a step towards better protection nonetheless.