Hidden repellent

This item appears on page 14 of the April 2011 issue.

My wife and I, along with our daughter and son-in-law, stayed three nights in Kerala, India, at the Coconut Lagoon (Box 2, Kumarakom, Kottayam 686563, India; phone +91 481 252 5034), Dec. 21-23, 2010.

We booked our stay, which cost about $250 per room per night, through Panache (47 Church St. #201 & 202, Bangalore 560 001, India; phone +91 80 4357 3000), located above Java City.

After the first night, my daughter and I each woke up with a severe allergic reaction and congestion. We both have asthma and allergy problems, so we thought our problems were due to pollen from the resort’s beautiful gardens.

During the second night I woke up sneezing heavily, then I noticed a red glow in the dark behind the headboard. It was a Good Knight mosquito-repellent diffuser. Plugged into an electrical outlet, the device (widely used in Kerala) heats a capsule containing chemical repellent, releasing it — throughout the day and night. Since our rooms were air-conditioned, all the chemical repellent remained in the closed room.

I spent the remaining night on the veranda.

Repellents of this type are sold under various names (Good Knight, All-Out, etc.) and can cause severe reactions in asthma sufferers. There was no warning in the room or at the check-in desk that they used these chemicals. If we had had to spend another night there, we both may have had to be hospitalized.

The hotel we stayed at the next day on Kovalam Beach used repellent in the rooms only on request. We had our rooms thoroughly aerated and new sheets put in before we went in.

Henderson, NV