The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday announced it would categorize insect repellents with diethyltoluamide (DEET) content of less than 15 percent as over-the-counter drugs, which means they can be sold at stores other than pharmacies.
As the weather heats up and mosquitoes become more active, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases — such as dengue fever, Zika fever and chikungunya — tend to rise significantly.
In a bid to prevent the spread of such diseases, especially dengue fever, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said insect repellent with less than 15 percent DEET could be sold online, at convenience stores, grocery stores and other outlets.
Previously, such repellents were categorized as instruction drugs, meaning that although a doctor’s prescription was not required, they could only be purchased at pharmacies.
The FDA has licensed five insect repellents containing less than 15 percent DEET, it said.
People should carefully read package inserts before spraying the repellents on skin or clothes, keeping a distance of 10cm to 15cm, while parents should spray repellents on their hands and then rub it on their children, the FDA said, adding that such products should not be used on children less than six months old.
In other news, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said imported dengue cases have increased in the past month, with the majority of cases from Vietnam and Malaysia.
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said dengue fever outbreaks are gradually increasing in Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and also South American countries, such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala.
The agency said that people visiting countries where dengue fever is spreading should take mosquito prevention measures, such as wearing light-colored, long-sleeved clothes, applying insect repellent, and staying in buildings with screen windows.
As afternoon thunderstorms often occur in Taiwan at this time of year, the CDC urged people to remove standing water after rain to reduce mosquito breeding sites and seek medical attention if they experience a fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, or muscle or joint pain.
In related news, the CDC said the number of people with flu-like symptoms reached 127,521 last week, an increase of 6.8 percent from a week earlier, indicating that the flu season is still at its peak.
People should maintain personal hygiene to prevent flu infection, it said.
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