BARNWELL COUNTY, SC (WFXG) - A homegrown company in Barnwell is helping shield Olympic athletes from the Zika virus in Rio. Anovotek created a method of embedding an odorless bug repellent into the athletes' official team USA gear.
They've been working on this sort of technology for about 10 years now. It wasn't until the past couple of months that their method found a very high profile use -- treating the Team USA athletes' gear.
The treated and untreated shirts virtually look and smell the same, except one of these shirts has thousands of tiny bug-repelling micro-capsules in it.
"As you wear the garments and with natural movement, ruptures capsules, the capsules release the insect repellent," said Don Alexander, CEO of Anovotek.
Father-son duo Don and Daniel Alexander created the method of applying the bug repelling chemical, Skintex MR III, into the clothing.
Team USA Swim athletes in Charlotte already had their bags packed for Rio but when when they heard about this they sent their bags to Barnwell.
"We drove up, met them halfway, picked up the bags, worked through the weekend and delivered them back on Monday for the athletes," said Alexander.
Anovotek teamed up with the creator of Skintex MR III, Pulcra Chemicals, to make this possible, treating the same Team USA jackets you will see at the Olympic games. They will also be sending these treated blankets to all the athletes.
"I was excited to have a part in protecting these athletes," said Daniel Alexander, Director of Business Development for Anovotek.
The younger Alexander says this technology has a big future -- essentially combining repellents and protective clothing. But nothing is sweeter than being able to make this possible in a small town like Barnwell, South Carolina.
"It's going to be fun to watch them come out and perform in some of the gear that we were able to treat here and know that we had a small hand in some of that gear was handled here at our facility in Barnwell," said Daniel Alexander.
The clothing treatment is approved by the Centers for Disease Control. Anovotek says the garments are good for at least 25 washes.