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Reporter's Notebook

June 7, 2014

Local expert: DEET doesn't ward off ticks

You might be using the wrong kind of repellent to keep away ticks, according to a local man who was quoted in a recent article in The Daily Star about the upsurge of Lyme disease.

In fact, if you’re using any DEET product to repel ticks, it’s essentially worthless, said Bob Tuthill, a local tick and Lyme disease expert who organized the Oneonta Lyme Support Group after developing Lyme disease in 2008.

DEET, a brand of diethyltoluamide, does not kill or disable ticks and is a poor repellent, Tuthill said. It also needs to be reapplied regularly and only works while it’s evaporating.

But Permethrin, a different repellent that kills ticks and insects on contact, remains effective weeks after it has dried inside clothing fibers and lasts through several washings, Tuthill said.

Permethrin is the military’s tick repellent of choice, according to the Department of Health. The fumes from the chemical is the agent of repulsion, Tuthill said.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the way in which you apply your repellent, Tuthill added.

Any application of repellents on children should be sprayed into adult hands, forming “a small puddle,” and then patted on the back of the child’s head, shoulders and back, where hands cannot transfer it to the mouth or eyes. The harsh chemicals in repellents should never be applied to the face, Tuthill said.

It’s a good idea to reserve one set of clothing for outdoor work or play and only use those for such occasions, Tuthill said. When you come back inside, take those clothes off immediately and throw them into the dryer.

•••

Three different groups of SUNY Oneonta students are abroad for field courses, according to the State University College at Oneonta’s Facebook page.

A group of 20 students, one teaching assistant and two faculty members are in Peru for a 14-day biology field course in the tropical rain forest, the page said.

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