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Important Information about using mosquito repellants

DEET and Child Safety

The American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends maximum DEET concentrations of 30% for children and infants older than 2 months of age. Lower concentrations are not as long lasting, requiring more frequent reapplication.

Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. Non-DEET repellents have not necessarily been as thoroughly studied as DEET and may not be safer for use on children. No serious illness has arisen from use of DEET when used according to the manufacturer's recommendations, according to the CDC.

CDC recommendations for DEET use in pregnant women do not differ from those for non-pregnant adults.

The CDC offers these additional tips when applying repellent product to children:

  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid the child's eyes and mouth and apply sparingly around the ears.

  • Do not apply repellent to children's hands. (Children tend to put their hands in their mouths.)

  • Do not allow children under 10 years old to apply insect repellent to themselves; have an adult do it for them. Keep repellents out of reach of children.

  • For children under 2 months of age, protect against mosquitoes by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.

Protecting Your Pets

Dog owners can provide protection to their pets from mosquitoes and other biting pests by using repellent products approved for use on dogs. These products are commercially available from veterinarians and protect against mosquito bites, which can transmit WNV and heartworms; and ticks bites, which can transmit Lyme Disease. Safe use requires closely following label directions. These products are not approved for use on cats. Cat owners should keep their pets indoors to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.

Don't use DEET on pets, as it can be dangerous if they ingest it.

Health officials recommend to protect your pets the same as you would protect yourself: remain indoors during the periods around dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are most active, keep windows screened, use approved mosquito repellents (talk to your vet), and eliminate mosquito-supporting habitat around your home.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State of Michigan, American Academy of Pediatrics