The War Against Mosquito Bites and Other Household Pests: Protection, Prevention and Education
Families need effective protection from the insects that can transmit the infections. As the world’s leading marketer of household pest control products, we take these threats personally. We work every day to make products that help families protect themselves, and to educate about how to avoid insect-borne illnesses.
Products That Protect: Insecticides and Repellents
Our work starts with products that help families protect themselves. After inventing Raid® insecticide in 1955, SC Johnson was the first major marketer of a DEET repellent formula, OFF!®, in 1957. This brought mosquito protection to millions of families. Before that, most repellents contained ingredients like bear grease that did not smell very good and did not work very well. They also were not sold broadly.
Today, we market a wide variety of personal and area repellent products all over the world, formulated with ingredients like DEET or Picaridin, another effective active ingredient for repellents. (All repellents should be used carefully – be sure you always read labels carefully to select the right product and use it properly.)
We also make products to kill, control and prevent pests in the home – such as cockroaches, ants, centipedes, spiders and more. We are continuously improving our products to repel mosquitoes longer, kill pests faster and help deter insects that may carry disease. We are also working to bring the best value we can, at a price that is affordable for those who need it.
Insect Science at the SC Johnson Institute of Insect Science for Family Health
We are able to do all this thanks to the SC Johnson Institute of Insect Science for Family Health. It is one of the world’s largest private, urban entomology research centre, and is located near our global headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin.
Since the 1950s, SC Johnson researchers in Racine have worked to understand and manage insects. Their areas of expertise include the sciences of insect biology, physiology, ecology, behaviour and toxicology, as well as infestation management and insect-borne disease prevention.
In 2013, we further expanded our research operations, opening a first-of-its-kind research facility in China.
Educating for Awareness: The Mosquito-Borne Disease Education Toolkit
Beyond products, a key element of our disease prevention efforts is educating families about how to avoid insects that may carry diseases– and especially those like malaria and dengue that are transmitted by mosquitoes in some tropical countries.
Through in-store programmes, collaborations with local government, product sampling and more, we work to educate about the transmission of these diseases, and the critical importance of avoiding mosquito bites.
Over time, these programmes – sponsored by our brands like Raid®, OFF!® and Baygon® in different countries – have become both public health programmes and an important way to build awareness with the people who need our products.
For example, for more than a decade, SC Johnson Philippines’ IWAS Dengue programme reached about 100,000 families a year with dengue-prevention information and free spraying in mosquito breeding areas.
Building on this model, in recent years we created a global mosquito-borne disease education toolkit, making it even easier for our operations around the world to conduct programmes quickly and effectively when outbreaks are likely. It includes school education programmes, guidelines for product sampling and public health activations like free spraying.
The programme is now in use in countries across Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Informed by Research: Mosquito Control and Prevention
Another arm of our disease prevention efforts is field research – investigating what products are recommended for people in different usage situations, and how to encourage and enable their use. For example, we are several years into a collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sponsoring research to study the effects of spatial repellents in fighting exposure to malaria-infected mosquitoes.
Other initiatives have sent SC Johnson researchers to countries including Ghana, Peru, Myanmar and Indonesia for first-hand understanding of the customs, traditions and lifestyles of rural families who are at risk for exposure to mosquitos that may carry diseases. From these experiences, our experts can identify opportunities to improve products or develop new ones that will work even better for families.
In 2012, SC Johnson and Cornell University’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise launched the WOW™ club pilot in Ghana to explore a new way to help families by reducing the transmission of malaria with a new business model that brings repellents and insecticides to rural families. The resulting effort helped low-income homemakers care for their homes and families.
A current program with The Coca-Cola Company is helping make mosquito repellents more accessible in rural Rwanda, by stocking them at EKOCENTERS. These are modular retail operations run by women entrepreneurs.
SC Johnson partnered with the University of Notre Dame, the Sumba Foundation and the Eijkman Institute, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to demonstrate that spatial repellents could be a useful tool in helping to reduce the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria. Researchers tested an innovative spatial repellent – developed by SC Johnson exclusively for this study – in a community in Sumba, Indonesia. The results showed that some village clusters saw a 28% reduction in first-time infections, while the areas with the highest number of mosquitoes saw a 66% reduction in overall malaria infection.
We continue to test and learn with new ideas in multiple locations, but our goal never changes: to help families prevent exposure to mosquitoes that may carry disease.
Making Insect Science Research Available
In 2016, with the emergence of Zika, we saw yet another educational opportunity. We gathered the insights earned in our six decades of insect science research, and created a special mosquito education website to help families concerned about mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry.
Set up in just a few weeks and offered in 14 languages spanning the globe, the site became a focal point for tips, expert information, and videos for those who were at risk and looking for information to protect themselves.
We also partnered with Sesame Street on a 1,2,3 Stay Away Mosquitoes programme that offered simple bite prevention tips for young families.
That year we also committed $15 million in products and support for families fighting mosquitoes that may carry diseases. We ultimately shipped more than 4.8 million units of SC Johnson repellent and insecticide products to NGOs and non-profit partners for distribution to those in need.