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Insects, Repellents and Insecticides... OH MY!

Director, Travel Medicine Program


Some insects carry deadly diseases while others just cause annoying, itchy bites. One of the roles we travel medicine providers play is to educate travelers to protect themselves from insect bites while abroad. Abroad, insects can be the source of malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya, leishmaniasis, etc. We thing we are exempt from these dangerous bites here in the US, but Chester County does have its own set of insects, ticks and mosquitos that can cause severe illness. These sometimes fatal ailments include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and West Nile virus.

For those of you who enjoy the outdoors... Be sure to protect yourself and your family with insect repellants and insecticides (such as DEET) applied to the skin and by wearing clothing treated with permethrin. The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) has evaluated peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they recommend several EPA registered insect repellent and insecticide products currently on the market. These products are even safe for infants older than 2 months old and pregnant and nursing mothers.

At the Travel Medicine Program at the Occupational Health Center, we offer two products for purchase: Ultrathon™ and Duration™. Both were developed for military personnel and are registered with the EPA.

Ultrathon™34.34% DEET lotion, developed by 3M, is a controlled release formulation which can last up to 12 hours. Applied to exposed skin only, this product not only protects against mosquitos and ticks, but also chiggers, gnats, and fleas. Research has demonstrated that repellents containing greater than 50% DEET do not provide more benefit. Those with less than 34.34% DEET will simply last a shorter length of time.

Duration™10% is a permethrin concentrate. Permethrin is the synthetic version of pyrethrum, the natural insecticide found in the flowers of the daisy chrysanthemum. Permethrin is available in both a soak and spray application. We offer the soak application at OHC. Permethrin binds to fabric and can last for six weeks or for up to six washings.


By wearing a LONG SLEEVED SHIRT and LONG PANTS plus using DEET and PERMETHRIN you can achieve a high degree of insect protection for you and your family. If you are interested in a travel medicine visit or would like to purchase these products, please contact the OHC Travel Medicine Program at 610.738.2450.


Last Updated: 12/16/2013