Save Me Steve: Zika Product Claims

Concerns over the Zika virus have some marketers cashing in on fears. But consumer reporter Steve Noviello says before you buy, don’t fall for the hype.

Lately some companies have been fined or even shut down because of their Zika-fighting claims meant to make you think their products are somehow more effective or specifically effective in combating Zika.

One company is taking a Texas-based mosquito misting system and telling it under the name Zika Cube.

The Zika Cube website makes the specific claim that the product can prevent Zika and goes into detail about what the author calls “the most dangerous virus to hit the continental United States since polio.”

What the site is selling is a product called the Pynamite Mosquito Misting System.

The Texas-based manufacturer said while their product is extremely effective in helping to eliminate nuisance insects, they make no specific claims about preventing Zika and have ordered the folks at Zika Cube to stop selling their product under that name and stop making anti-Zika claims.

At last check, the site with those claims is still up.

Zika can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse and some say that requires special protection.

Australian pharmaceutical company Star-Pharma said their "dual protect" condoms have a special anti-viral gel, which shows "near-complete" antiviral protection against Zika in laboratory studies.

The company made a big splash when they announced they are supplying the Australian Olympic team with these special condoms during their stay at the Olympics in Rio.

But a few notes, the claim comes from lab tests. In other words, there were no real world trials. Next, while they may be effective, there's little to show they are more effective than any other condom on the market.

The condoms are also not new. They were developed years ago and were originally designed to cut down on the transmission of other STDs, including HIV. This is just a new way to market them.

It is widely thought that the use of any condom is an effective measure against Zika.

And what about bug spray? It’s probably the product most people reach for most often. The brand Off certainly comes to mind.

It also just took advantage of a big marketing opportunity by becoming the first official supplier of bug repellant to the Olympic Games, a partnership like that may lead consumers the think Off is particularly effective in combating Zika.

It’s especially convincing when you pair it with display marketing like, “Off -- Advertised to combat the mosquitos which may carry Zika.”

While it is certainly recommended you use bug spray, in order it to specifically combat the tropical mosquito which carries Zika, the mosquito must be present in your area.

Remember that despite this mega-marketing partnership, it's winter in Brazil. Public health officials around the world say the risk of acquiring Zika at the Olympic Games is low since the Brazilian winter is a time when mosquitoes are less active.   

The bottom line is protect yourself, but make sure you're buying the steak and not the sizzle.