The ongoing outbreak of dengue fever traced to Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park is prompting consumers to snap up anti-mosquito skin sprays in a season when sales of the item usually decline, while a novel type of mosquito guard is also seeing a sudden surge in demand, industry sources say.
From pesticide sprays, skin sprays and mosquito-slaying vaporizers to the traditional smoking green coils, products designed to ward off the blood-sucking insects usually see a drop in sales in September after the peak months of July and August.
But shipments of the products show no sign of abating at Tokyo’s Earth Chemical Co.
“We actually saw less-than-average shipments in August due to heavy rain and extreme hot weather, but there has been a world of difference in September orders this year,” said Hideyuki Nozaki, a spokesman for Earth Chemical.
“This is usually the month when drug stores downsize the amount of floor space they give to anti-insect products and return excess inventory to us, but we’re still shipping the products,” he added, citing two types of bug spray.
Nozaki declined to mention figures because the company has not confirmed the number of surplus items returned from retailers.
After the health ministry on Aug. 27 confirmed the first domestic case of dengue in nearly 70 years, and the number of reported patients surged, mosquito repellent has left store shelves at an unusually fast pace, according to sources at major drug stores.
Major insecticide companies say repellents applied to the skin are proving the most popular.
Last Friday, Aichi Prefecture-based firm Clever launched domestic sales of its mosquito-repelling arm and leg covers and a scarf, as well as replacement nets for window screens. The company had previously sold its products to Southeast Asian and African countries, where demand is high due to the need to combat malaria.
“Inquiries on the products skyrocketed on Aug. 27, and it seems that Net searches using ‘dengue fever’ and ‘prevention’ as key words turned up our website and products,” said the company’s managing director, Tsuyoshi Nakagawara.
The Kagasaru line of products are all made using an agent derived from the sap of Japanese cypress trees, which has a mosquito-repelling quality, he said.
Orders and inquiries keep rolling in, and the company is now trying to prioritize those that come from areas where dengue fever patients have been found, he added.