August 10, 2020


The bit of news that got me excited today has nothing to do with the coronavirus but is related to infectious diseases. The CDC received FDA approval for a new biopesticide to use in mosquito and tick repellents. Called “Nootkatone”, it is found in grapefruit skin and Alaska yellow cedar. It is used in perfumes and as a food additive. It repels and kills both mosquitos and ticks and is safe and non-toxic. It will take a while for products to be available, but I am looking forward to other options. Picaridin has been my go to mosquito repellent since it became available a number of years ago. It is practically odorless and works just as well as DEET. DEET is the commonly used “gold standard” for insect repellents, but I am not a fan of it. Not only does it smell, it melts plastic. I found that out years ago when it melted my Swiss Army knife. I have resented DEET ever since.

Prevention of mosquito and tick bites matter due to the increasing number of infections that are transmitted by those vectors. Anyone living in New England and most other states now can tell us about Lyme disease and its spread from tick bites. Women who were pregnant a few years ago, especially in Florida and south Texas or who had traveled to tropical places, were terrified of mosquito bites and their relationship to Zika which can harm fetuses. Malaria prophylaxis is prescribed when traveling to many countries. Dengue Fever is a concern in many areas as well. Not to mention Chikungunya. Having good options for preventing insect bites is a good thing, especially during a pandemic when we are spending more time outdoors.

These insects are the vectors that can carry some diseases that can be confused with COVID-19, so protecting yourself from bites is a good idea. This New York Times article is a good interactive about what the symptoms of COVID-19 are. I don’t know about you, but everyday still I check in with my body and review how I am feeling, it is hard not to. Everyday so far, luckily, I say “That is my usual morning cough”.

And I leave you with this COVID Risk Chart from my favorite geeky comic XKCD.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and apply sunscreen and insect repellent as needed.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.