Consumer Reports: Best insect repellents to protect your family

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Just in time for summer, Consumer Reports has tested insect repellents and found the best ones to protect you and your family. (WPVI)

Just in time for summer, Consumer Reports has tested insect repellents and found the best ones to protect you and your family.

The Zika virus has spread to more than 40 countries in the Western Hemisphere. And while experts don't expect an epidemic on the U.S. mainland, they do expect local outbreaks in certain communities.

Other diseases including West Nile and Lyme are already common throughout the country.

Consumer Reports has done some testing and has recommendations for the best insect repellents to stay safe.

But they warn not all products provide the same level of protection.

Testers looked at 16 insect repellents with a range of active ingredients for their effectiveness at repelling bites from the Aedes mosquito that can carry Zika and Chikungunya and the Culex mosquito known to spread West Nile virus.

The lab also tested the repellents against deer ticks, which can carry Lyme and other diseases.

While choosing a natural or plant-oil-based insect repellent instead of one containing deet might seem like a good idea, Consumer Reports found otherwise.

"Five out of the six that we tested lasted only an hour and a half or even less against the Aedes mosquito, which is of course the one that carries the Zika virus," said Jeneen Interlandi.

The exception was Repel 30% Lemon Eucalyptus, which was able to ward off Aedes mosquitoes for seven hours.

Others that did well in Consumer Reports tests include Sawyer 20% Picaridin and Ben's 30% Deet Tick and Insect Wilderness Formula.

When used properly, most of these products are safe for children and all are safe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

In response to Consumer Reports' concerns about natural insect repellents, a trade group, the Natural Products Association, says that some plant oils do work and some people want alternatives to deet.

Also, Viatek, which makes the Mosquito Shield Bands has settled with the Federal Trade Commission.

The company claims the wristbands create a "vapor barrier" that shields you from getting bitten but the FTC alleged it did not have reliable scientific evidence to back up its claims.

CLICK HERE for more information and advice from Consumer Reports on finding an effective insect repellent.
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