Local business helping Olympic hopefuls combat Zika virus

  • Daniel and Don Alexander of Anovotek delivered the USA Olympic swim team’s treated clothing last week.

A Barnwell County business, Anovotek LLC, is taking on an Olympian task to help United States athletes combat the Zika virus.

According to Anovotek president Don Alexander of Barnwell, the business “has developed a proprietary method for treating apparel and other sewn products with the Skintex MRIII system,” a mosquito repellent technology. Last weekend Don, his son Anovotek Business Development Director Daniel Alexander and coworkers treated the clothing for six members and the coach of the USA Olympic swim team.

According to Alexander and the SkinTex MRIII website, the product is contained in micro-capsules. “As a person moves, it breaks those capsules and releases the product.” The result is that when the clothing is in use, it “provides a knockdead / knockdown effect for insects when they land and/or feed. And, it’s the only micro-encapsulation technology registered with the EPA to combat insects on textiles.”

“We are partnering with Pulcra Chemicals in Rock Hill to treat clothing of some USA athletes to help protect them from mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus,” said Alexander. The actual treatment of the clothing takes place in Barnwell.

Six members of the USA swim team have been practicing at SwimMac Carolina in Charlotte, N.C., and their coach just learned of the process. “We got the call last Wednesday and worked all weekend to get their clothing back Monday afternoon,” said Alexander.

Once treated, the clothing is Environmental Protection Agency-rated for 25 washings, explained Alexander in a previous interview.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, according to the CDC, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, according to the CDC, and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories.

The 2016 Summer Olympics is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August and CDC officials fear the “Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas.”

Alexander said they are also treating the clothing of the U.S. water polo team. “There are 45 members on that team,” said Alexander.

Many locals may not recognize the Anovotek business name but they do shop at its headquarters across from the Barnwell Post Office which also houses Edisto Outdoors, a shop offering T-shirts, hats, pillows and a variety of personalized and customized products.

Locals can also take advantage of insect-repellant technology through Edisto Outdoors. “A person can bring us their clothing, such as camouflage clothing, and we will treat it,” said Alexander last year when the business opened.

Alexander said he and his family are “thrilled” at the opportunity to help the USA athletes.

While Anovotek is a local business, Alexander said they “work with global technology providers, manufacturers, brands and retailers to develop high performance technical products.”

“We are working with SouthernCarolina Alliance to consolidate the Anovotek operations in Barnwell, providing a boost to the local economy through technical-based job growth. Additional announcements will be made soon,” said Alexander.