By Graham Ulkins - email
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana is home to over 50 species of mosquitoes. Spend five minutes outside on a muggy August evening and you'll probably encounter at least one. But there's a new repellent on the market that has people buzzing.
Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. According to the CDC, there were 49 reported cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana last year, including one death. Proper protection is a must. The latest product to hit the shelves of Baton Rouge-area stores claims to keep you bite-free for up to 36 hours. It's an all-natural patch containing 75 milligrams of Vitamin B1. Chad Clark owns distribution rights for the patch. He accompanied the news crew to East Baton Rouge's mosquito abatement facility for a test. The patch was applied the day before to give it ample time to take effect.
"Everyone's body gives off a certain scent and as you perspire, your body gives off that B1 scent that mosquitoes tend not to like," Clark said.
In a cage was about 50 hungry Asian Tiger mosquitoes, one of the most common and problematic species in Louisiana. An arm from one person with the patch and one of another person without it were both placed within the cage. The mosquitoes immediately landed on both arms, seemingly unaffected by the B1. As a control, the person without the patch sprayed his other arm with Off, which contains the proven repellent Deet. Back inside the cage, not a single mosquito even landed. The person with the patch noted eight distinct bites.
The next test involved a real-world situation, a walk into the woods of south Louisiana. Jennifer Bodin, a mosquito control specialist, knew just the spot.
"The mosquitoes are fierce out here," she said. "This site, the trap I picked up, thousands of mosquitoes."
While there weren't thousands on that particular morning, the guy without the patch got three bites and the one with the patch got two. As interesting as the results were, they're not exactly scientific.
"There's a lot of factors here," said Dr. Wayne Kramer. "The species of mosquito, the age, the physiological condition of the material, not all materials act the same in different people."
Kramer has researched mosquitoes his entire career at the LSU Ag Center.
"These studies are fairly complex. It's expensive to do these replicated, controlled studies that would be necessary to show the effectiveness of this material," he added.
To date, the only major studies evaluating B1 as a mosquito repellent tested the vitamin in pill form. Those researchers concluded B1 had "no significant effect," had an "unnoticeably small" effect, was "ineffective" and an "inactive repellent." The B1 patch has only gone through smaller tests, mostly in Africa, but distributors insist it works.
"You got bit pretty bad, but we didn't get bit at all. It all depends on who you are. 90% of people who do use it, it does work very well," Clark said.
Until there's scientific evidence to back that claim, your only sure bet is a CDC-approved repellent and a healthy dose of common sense. If you want to try the patch, it's all natural and won't hurt you. It's available at select stores, including Goodwood Hardware and Chris' Specialty Meats. A two-pack costs $5.