As the Zika virus infects more and more people in the United States, companies are honing in on the rising fear of the infection. Currently, there are 16 individuals in Missouri confirmed with the Zika virus, and in New York, there are a staggering 537 people infected by the virus. Companies are taking advantage of the “close to home” fear of this infection, and as a result, pushing ineffective products to the market and making false claims about their capabilities.

Zika, which causes serious birth defects, is spread by the tiger mosquito, pictured.

Zika, which causes serious birth defects, is spread by the tiger mosquito, pictured.

One type of product that companies are placing on the market is ultrasonic electronic repellants. These devices, such as Cravegreens’s Pest Control Ultrasonic Repellant, promise to send insects and rodents scurrying away from the inaudible frequency waves. Cravegreens claims the plugin device will repel insects for up to a 200 m2 radius. These type of devices were originally seen as a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to the hazardous chemicals found in other repellants. However, there is a problem with these devices: they do not work.

The Federal Trade Commission first took note of these deceptive devices in 2001 when it warned manufacturers that more scientific research was required to back their claims of effectiveness. The studies indicate that the ultrasonic devices not only fail to repel mosquitoes but may even attract them. The Environmental Protection Agency only recognizes insect repellants which contain at least one of the five of the active ingredients approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535. Devices such as Cravegreens’s Pest Control Ultrasonic Repellant fail to use any of the CDC’s recognized ingredients.

The New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is now taking action against companies marketing products as “Zika-preventative” or “Zika-protective,” which include these ultrasound plug-in devices used to repel mosquitoes. According to the New York City Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, “There are no magic objects that will keep mosquitoes at bay.” She further warned consumers not to “waste your money on these products.” The attorney general began pursuing these companies when their advertised claims were not matching the studies on these devices. Schneiderman stated, “Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of public concern about Zika to peddle products that simply don’t work. My office will not tolerate deceptive advertising of products that provide only a false sense of security against a real threat.”

Earlier this spring, the Federal Trade Commission fined one mosquito repellant device manufacturer $300,000 when the company falsely claimed that their wristband could create a five-foot barrier protecting wearers against mosquitoes. Currently, the attorney general is seeking the removal of these products from the market. However, if companies fail to heed the request, the office will seek damages as well.

The most effective and proven insect repellants contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Companies which sell ultrasonic devices claiming to repel insects and pests need to be held accountable for their false advertisements. If you have acquired one of these devices, such as Cravegreens’s Pest Control Ultrasonic Repellant, you may have a claim. At Keane Law LLC, our experienced attorneys can ensure you receive the best legal representation you deserve. Don’t settle on being another victim of a scam; contact us today for a free consultation.