The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a newly-developed method of repelling ticks and mosquitos using a natural ingredient found sparingly in grapefruit and cedar trees.
According to the CDC statement, the ingredient Nootkatone is responsible for the smell and taste of grapefruit and is found in some perfumes. It is able to repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting pests.
Nootkatone is also found in minute quantities in Alaska yellow cedar trees and grapefruit skin, the CDC said.
Dr Jay C Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases said that the health authority is proud to have led the research and development of nootkatone.
"Providing new alternatives to existing bite-prevention methods paves the way to solving one of the biggest challenges in preventing vector-borne diseases—preventing bites,” Butler added.
CDC has further added that studies have shown that when nootkatone is turned into insect repellents, they may protect from bites at similar rates as products with other active ingredients available in the market and can provide up to several hours of protection.
The federal agency also stated that nootkatone will be used to develop new insecticides and repellants to help protect people and pets from bug biting insects. "CDC’s licensed partner, Evolva, is in advanced discussions with leading pest control companies for possible commercial partnerships," the statement said, adding that the products could be commercially available as early as 2022.
According to a report in NBC News, the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that nootkatone is safe and effective and has formally given the greenlight for companies to use it to develop new products for the protection of both humans and pets.
As per the report, the EPA has stated that studies have shown that nootkatone may protect against ticks, mosquitoes and pests that cause Lyme disease, malaria and the Zika virus. The report added that the introduction of a new chemical, the first since 2009, can also help fight resistance to many common insect repellents seen today.