Tick-Borne Disease Working Group Public Comment, Dec. 2020
This public comment, submitted to the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group by Ranger Ready Founder & CEO, Chris Fuentes, highlights and reinforces the need for research and development of educational materials to encourage wearing safe and effective insect repellents every day as a form of personal protection.
To the Distinguished Members of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group,
I am writing to you today as the founder of Ranger Ready Repellents®, a company whose declared mission is to stem the alarming increase of vector-borne diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes. With five grandchildren between us, my business partner, Ted Kesten, and I are dedicated to inventing a ‘better ingredient repellent’ so that our future generations are protected from devastating tick-borne illnesses. Living at the epicenter of vector-borne diseases, just 50 miles down the road from Old Lyme, Connecticut, we have personally witnessed how hundreds of close friends and family have been impacted by tick bites, and our sincere goal is to prevent those devastating illnesses from happening in the first place.
Regarding the Use of Repellents: The 2018 TBDWG Report to Congress clearly states that, while there is an abundant number of safe and effective repellent options available, people are reluctant to use repellents as the first line of defense and that ‘barriers persist’, requiring more research. Two years ago, as a one-year start-up, we took that as a call-to-action and have done extensive research to learn why the American population as a whole is reluctant to use safe and effective insect repellents.
Research Discovery: In two independent and separate research studies of frontline workers - Registered Nurses and Pharmacists - we have been able to more clearly answer why and what barriers exist. We have discovered a large knowledge gap in frontline workers’ understanding of repellent active ingredients and the proper use of repellents. Research indicates that accredited training for professionals on repellents is nearly non-existent, and that most medical professionals gain knowledge on repellents from online research that is rooted in information that is outdated or incorrect.
Steps Forward: First, in August 2020, our company announced the development of a nationally accredited, widely available, Continuing Education program to better inform frontline workers and other professionals on the proper use of repellents. Our intention is to provide accurate information to professionals and break the cycle of our kids being bitten. Second, the information regarding the proper use of repellents needs to be updated to reflect the most effective world standards for similar products. There is clear and sufficient evidence that consumers are confused about what active ingredient to use and how much active is required for effective protection from bites. And third, that each state has an opportunity to improve its repellent program offerings to better serve their residents. A simple step forward is to make repellents FSA eligible, which our company has appealed for without success thus far.
Heighten the Sense of Protection from Tick-Borne Diseases: By directing resources towards proper protection and preventative practices, we can effectively reduce the number of cases of tick-borne diseases and save lives. People must improve their personal protective measures, or the cost and human suffering will persist. Particularly in the Spring of 2021, we estimate that Americans will emerge in unprecedented numbers to garden, hike, walk their dogs, camp and be broadly susceptible to ticks bites. A federally supported public service information campaign would serve to protect our nation from bites that cause long-term illnesses.
Thank you for all of the hard work you do as public servants, volunteers and professionals.
Chris L. Fuentes | Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Ranger Ready Repellents® | Norwalk, Connecticut