Repellents containing the chemical picaridin or the oil of lemon eucalyptus offer "long-lasting protection against mosquito bites," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that repellents with DEET remain on the agency's recommendation list.
"Since West Nile virus is present across the entire country at this point and it's here to stay, we constantly need to be vigilant," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's division of vector-borne infectious diseases. "It gives consumers a better option to protect themselves."
Both products have been available elsewhere in the world, including Europe and Australia, since the 1980s. Repellent makers have been eager to introduce them to U.S. markets but it was hard to compete with DEET, the only chemical touted as effective by local, state and federal health officials.
Federal officials maintained for years that non-DEET repellents were not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites. DEET has been the go-to chemical for health officials trying to control the spread of the West Nile virus in the United States.