Excitement for the 2016 Olympics is buzzing: But SC Johnson, the makers of Off! bug spray, has cut a deal with Rio 2016 to keep at least some of the buzzing at bay. They’ve announced that they’ll be the first ever official supplier of insect repellent for the Olympics, in response to increasing concerns over Zika.

SC Johnson has donated 115,000 units of insect repellent to the Olympics committee, says Jeff McCollum, public affairs manager at SC Johnson. The Olympics staff will distribute the products to volunteers, staff, athletes, and coaches as they see fit, McCollum says.  

“We are really pleased with this partnership,” says Nadia Nightingale, a representative from Rio 2016. “It’s the first of this kind for Rio 2016.” 

Brazil is currently in the throes of an active Zika outbreak, which has prompted several hundred public health experts to call for the Games to be postponed or moved to a new location, citing fears that increased travel to Rio might make an already scary situation even worse by enhancing the virus’ reach across the globe. Zika is largely acquired through mosquito bites, primarily from the Aedes mosquito, which is notoriously resilient and can lay eggs under a wide variety of conditions. It’s also an aggressive daytime biter.

Public health officials around the world say that the risk of acquiring the virus at the Games is low since it’ll be winter in Brazil, a time when mosquitoes are less active.  

Still, there are important precautions you should take if you decide to travel to the Games. Having a good insect repellent and applying it properly will be your best first line of defense against Zika. And according to recent Consumer Reports’ tests of insect repellents, not all bug sprays thwart bites from mosquitoes and ticks equally.

How Off! Products Fared

We found that after proper application, the Off! Deepwoods Vlll blend, which contains 25 percent deet, provided excellent protection against the Aedes mosquitoes, warding them off for eight hours. But it ranked only sixth overall in our Ratings, with a score of 74 out of 100, because it protected against deer ticks, which can spread Lyme, for only 5 hours.  

We also tested the Off! FamilyCare ll Clean Feel blend, which contains five percent picaridin. It didn't perform as well, earning an overall score of only 18. We found that it thwarted bites from the Aedes mosquito for only one-half hour.

Our highest-rated repellent, Sawyer Picaridin (96 percent CR rating), is slightly more costly per ounce than the Off! Deepwoods Vlll—43 cents more per ounce—and offers the same eight-hour length of protection against the Aedes mosquito, but it will also give you 3.5 more hours of protection against deer ticks.

Other notable formulations that we recommend and that earned “excellent” Ratings include Ben's 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula (Overall score: 93), Repel Lemon Eucalyptus (Overal score: 87), and Repel Scented Family (Overall score: 82), though we found that these won’t protect against the Aedes mosquito for as long as the Off! Deepwoods Vlll and the Sawyer Picaridin blends, so you’ll have to reapply those more often. 

The Zika virus has now spread to 61 countries, 47 of which experienced their first outbreak in 2015, according to the World Health Organization. In addition to mosquito bites, it is also spread through sexual contact with infected partners.

The virus has been linked to serious birth defects in babies and, less often, serious health problems in adults, too. Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant soon are most at risk of complications from acquiring Zika.

For more about our insect repellent ratings, how to apply, and the types of repellents that will offer the highest protection against Zika, check our official guide here

Guide to Mosquito and Tick Diseases

Where Most Cases Occur

Serious Side Effects

Symptoms appear


Common Symptoms