This Clothing Line Claims To Protect You From Zika Virus

Photo: Courtesy of Nobitech.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, among other things, has put many of us on high alert — especially for those of us with travel plans in places where the virus is rampant, and more recently, for residents of Miami, where the first U.S. cases have been documented. For most people Zika is a mild illness, but it can be dangerous for women who are (or are trying to become) pregnant because of the link to birth defects.

There's currently no vaccine (or treatment) for Zika, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pointed out ways to potentially protect yourself, including: using bug repellant, and/or treating your clothes with the insecticide permethrin. So we were pretty intrigued to hear about Nobitech (get it, "No-Bite-Tech?"), a new apparel company that claims its clothes repel harmful insects, including mosquitos that may carry the Zika virus. Offering men's, women's, and even customizable garments that include T-shirts, pullovers, pants, and beyond, Nobitech's outdoor leisurewear utilizes EPA-approved Skintex technology, which, it says, slowly releases a synthetic repellent that's non-toxic for humans, but deadly to insects. The brand claims that by wearing its clothes, people will not only avoid pesky itches and stings, but other potentially dangerous diseases beyond Zika, such as West Nile virus.

Sure, the idea of enjoying the fresh air without the threat of dangerous insects seems great in theory, but we have a few concerns: 1. We'll be honest, this isn't the most attractive athleisure line out there. (We care about aesthetics, okay?) 2. Even with mosquito protection in mind, it isn't exactly the most practical thing to wear in 100-degree summer weather. Plus, if you think about it, any piece of clothing that covers your skin with thick enough fabric is likely protecting that skin from mosquito bites — with or without added repellant. So, we're skeptical of how useful this clothing actually is. Plus, this kind of thing is already pretty common in hiking gear.

After speaking with a representative at the CDC, we learned the organization does not recommend any specific brand of clothing when it comes to protecting yourself (or your children) with insect repellant. It does, however, recommend using EPA-registered insect repellents and permethrin-treated items. (Note: In some places, like Puerto Rico, there is widespread permethrin resistance, and it is likely to be ineffective. The CDC suggests contacting local authorities or a mosquito control district for more information on pesticides.) We've also reached out to the American Mosquito Control Association for comment and will update with any important information.

So, while this isn't exactly a major "fashion" play, we do appreciate Nobitech's proposed protective purpose (since it's EPA-approved, it definitely can't hurt to try). The question is: Will you be considering ditching your more trend-forward athletic pieces for something that could potentially prevent getting bitten? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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