Fighting mosquitoes: The buzz on biocide rules

Published: 6-Oct-2022

Thanks to decades of background work carried out by Merck, the supplier can offer customers DEET-free insect repellents via its IR3535 product. Here, Dr Daniel Neumann and Bettina Magsaam discuss Merck’s novel solution amid the regulatory red tape required to beat the bugs

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For many, the end of lockdowns has rekindled an interest in outdoor activities. But as we rediscover our love of nature, insects are also rediscovering the temptations of human skin for sucking out their meal of blood.

That is why it is important to choose the right products for protection from itching bites – or even a potential infection with a vector-borne disease. An increasing number of companies are now using IR3535 (IR3535 is a registered trademark of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) from Merck instead of DEET as an active insect repellent substance – for reasons that not only make sense for manufacturers, but also provide reassurance to discerning customers.  

Bugs: A real threat to health

For some, mosquitoes are just pesky insects, or a nuisance when you’re trying to sleep. For others, they’re a genuine threat to health, alongside other kinds of creepy-crawlies that jump on board when you’re exploring woods and wildlife. Worse still, some pests even make it back home with you afterwards.

Depending on how old or big they are, ticks are not too difficult to spot on human skin. But just one bite from an infected tick is enough to transmit pathogens. These include a viral infectious disease called tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

In warmer climes, insects also transmit life-threatening infectious diseases. Due to global warming, an increasing number of exotic mosquito species are also now being found in northern latitudes. Malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya fever, dengue fever, Zika and West Nile fever are all diseases easily transmitted by mosquitoes. Worryingly, mosquitoes top the list of the ‘world’s deadliest animals’[1].  

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