ATLANTA, July 19 (UPI) -- As U.S. health officials brace for another West Nile virus season, they are recommending insect repellents that users might find less obnoxious than DEET.
Many people complain that DEET smells bad and damages plastics and synthetic fabrics.
John Carlson, a Yale molecular biologist working on new insect repellents, told the New York Times that he tries to avoid DEET.
"I don't like the greasy feel of it on my skin, so I don't wear it," Dr. Carlson said. "I'd rather stay indoors or wear long sleeves."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects 2,500 cases of West Nile in the United States, the same as last year. While the sometimes fatal disease is spread by mosquitoes, only about 40 percent of the population wears repellent.
The CDC says two repellents appear to match DEET's effectiveness, at least for those who do not need heavy-duty protection.
Picaridin, a chemical already used in repellents overseas, was introduced in the United States this year. Cutter Advanced has a 7 percent concentration, providing about two hours of protection.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus, found in OFF! Botanicals and Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, provides about the same protection as lower concentrations of DEET and picaridin.