Deet protects against diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, passed on by mosquitoes and other insects. Some have been concerned that it could be toxic and pose a risk to health. But the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine scientists say Deet is “the safest you can get”. They recommend applying repellents containing 20-50% Deet to the skin when in countries with diseases spread by insects. They say that with foreign travel becoming more popular, greater awareness is needed about insect bite risks and prevention.
The number of people travelling to tropical countries increased by two million between 2002 and 2012, and Public Health England recently warned of increasing rates of dengue fever in returning UK travellers.
Fatality link ‘speculation’
Deet was developed by the US Army in 1946 following its experience of jungle warfare during World War Two. Previous concerns about Deet’s safety had been raised after fatal cases of encephalopathy, or swelling of the brain, had been reported in children who had used it during the 1980s, said the study.
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