Warmer Weather Heats Up West Nile Virus Threat

(July 13, 2006)

Public Health Officials Offer Recommendations and Warnings to "Fight the Bite"

San Francisco, CA – As summer heats up, so do the chances of getting bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus (WNV.) Thousands of San Franciscans, weary of the cold foggy days of summer in the City, will be heading out to warmer climates where West Nile Virus has already taken a strong foothold. In 2006, WNV has been detected in 21 states across the US, including 17 counties in California. Heeding the advice to protect themselves and their families, many vacationers will be packing any number of popular "bug spray" and devices to ward off mosquito bites. Public health officials are advising travelers to educate themselves on what products are most effective, to heed the warnings on the labels and to use them correctly.

A wide variety of personal insect repellent products are available over the counter. In keeping with guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health officials are recommending the use of products containing either DEET or Picaridin. Both of these active ingredients are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing.

Topical repellents containing Picaridin are a preferred choice for kids. Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus, while approved by the EPA, may sting when applied to children or individuals sensitive skin.

An option for fighting off mosquitoes for groups of people is a smoke-emitting "mosquito coil." These devices are strictly for use outdoors and public health officials caution that inhaling the fumes and smoke from these coils is unhealthy and can be dangerous to young children, the elderly and anyone with asthma or diminished lung capacity.

For more information on using and choosing summer mosquito protection, see the attached flyer, "Guidelines for Using and Choosing Mosquito Repellents."

Information on West Nile Virus can be found at www.sfmosquito.org and www.westnile.ca.gov.

Guidelines for Using and Choosing Mosquito Repellents

  • Read all labels before applying to skin or clothing

  • Look for products containing DEET or Picaridin (Recommended by EPA)

  • Higher concentrations of DEET provide longer protection

  • DEET diminishes as the temperature increases

  • Reapply DEET mosquito repellent after vigorous perspiration or swimming

  • When applying mosquito repellent to clothing, spray outside in well ventilated area

  • Use mosquito coils only in outdoor areas. Avoid breathing fumes from coils.

Guidelines for Using and Choosing Mosquito Repellents for Children

  • Choose products containing Picaridin

  • Avoid products that combine insect repellent with sunscreen

  • Keep all products safely away from children

  • Allow only adults to apply mosquito repellent to children

  • Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus may cause stinging of young and sensitive skin

Media Contacts:

Eileen Shields, Public Information Officer 415/554-2507


Department of the Environment

City and County of San Francisco

11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Telephone: (415) 355-3700 | Fax: (415) 554-6393

Email: environment@sfgov.org | www.sfenvironment.com