Sarasota company finds non-chemical way to tackle Zika virus

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - With the recent Zika outbreaks throughout the state, the demand for mosquito repellent has increased. Concern is higher for pregnant women who can pass the illness on to their unborn fetus. Now, a local company has a new alternative for protection against Zika.

"Should a pregnant woman put a chemical on her skin, would you put it on your child if it reads dangerous for your eye," said Charles Murray, the founder of Penta 5 USA.

Murray says the concerns for Zika have many choosing between a rock and a hard place of who should risk getting Zika or use a product filled with chemicals.

"They've been trying to kill the mosquito and at the same time they've been allowing all of us to put chemicals on our skin," added Murray.

For the past 8 years, Penta5 scientists have been working to develop natural repellent to mosquito born disease.

"The female mosquito is the one that bites, and she is looking for a blood meal to feed her eggs. We closely studied her habits and found out that there are certain vegetables that she doesn't put in her diet," added Murray.

Murray says they took those vegetables and incorporated them in the mosquito repellent products.

"So when you put it on your arm, she smells the product that she doesn't like and she's not going to bite. So we have an all-natural very safe solution that's non-toxic" .

And while it is important to use mosquito repellent like the one made by Murray's company, Sarasota County Mosquito control officials say people should also make sure they are not breeding mosquitoes around their homes.

"It's not really something you can spray your way out of. It really comes down to getting a well engaged well informed public that helps you with getting rid of all the containers and little areas where Zika mosquito breed", said Matt Smith, with Sarasota Mosquito Control.

And unlike other mosquito viruses, Smith says the Zika has a higher impact on humans.

"It is transmitted straight from human to human by mosquito. It’s not like some of the ones you're familiar with like Eastern Equine, West Nile, or St. Luis Encephalitis those are primary bird viruses and humans just happen to get them sometimes. Zika we actually replicate the virus and transmit them to mosquitoes and to other people."

That's why Smith says it’s important to have personal protection and Murray and his company is hoping people use their natural alternative.

"That's really what we want because who knows what these chemicals are going to do to us in the long run," added Murray.

The MosquitoPaQ products are made right here on the Suncoast. They are now available online and will soon be in stores near you.