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Zika Concerns Fuel Bug Repellent Apparel Craze

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While Zika virus cases continue to develop in the U.S., many outdoor clothing brands, including ExOfficio, are experiencing a spike in bug-repellent apparel sales. As consumers stock up on anti-mosquito garments, some brands are even experiencing sell outs and back orders of the protective apparel.

ExOfficio’s sales have jumped 50 percent since the illness’s first cases were reported in Central and South America, The Los Angeles Times reported. Although the company’s sales reportedly remained strong this summer, sales increased again when Zika cases were reported in the U.S.

“In May and through July, we sold out of a lot of product, which is indicative of the heightened demand around the product. The challenge for us is that it’s a pretty intensive process for us to bring the product to the market,” ExOfficio general manager Brian Thompson said. “There is a six-month lead time and so it is hard to react quickly.” Reorders are already en route to accommodate consumer demand.

In 2004, ExOfficio was the first outdoor retailer to debut EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered Insect Shield insect repellent apparel in the United States. The brand’s Bugsaway line features clothing with invisible and odorless insect protection abilities. Permethrin, an insect repellent, is built-into Bugsaway garments to prevent insect-borne diseases. The special Insect Shield technology remains for 70 washes without tampering with the clothing or irritating the user’s body. Today, the bug repellent collection features more than 40 different styles for consumers.

Nobitech, another athletic clothing brand, also launched a bug repellent apparel collection last month, in response to the ongoing Zika outbreak. Each of the line’s clothes feature Skintex technology, which is the only anti-mosquito microencapsulation treatment ensured by the EPA. Nobitech’s bug repellent performance tees, jackets and pants also contain Permethrin, which damages insects’ nervous systems upon contact.

As of Aug. 24, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported a total of 2,517 Zika cases in the U.S. Last week, the CDC also granted $6.8 million to national public health partners to help affected areas combat the illness with research and extensive health care. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also transported $81 million from other project funds to work on a future Zika vaccine.

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