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FILE PHOTO: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference to announce a state-based effort to combat climate change in New York, New York, U.S. March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

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By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state's top prosecutor said on Wednesday his office has sent cease-and-desist letters to seven companies accused of deceptively marketing ineffective Zika-protection products amid growing concern over the mosquito-borne virus.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also issued a consumer alert warning against the companies' advertisements, which are mainly for ultrasonic and botanical oil-based mosquito repellants. Those products "simply don't work," Schneiderman told a news conference.

The products targeted by Schneiderman include the Wildheart Outdoors Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelet, the Kenza High Quality Zika Mosquito Repellent Smiley Patch and the STAR Ultrasonic Pest Repeller.

Schneiderman said the marketing tactics used by the companies for these products have been "absolutely shameless." He said studies have shown ultrasonic devices do not repel mosquitoes and may even attract them. He also urged consumers to stick to insect repellants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as DEET.

Concern over Zika, which is spreading rapidly in the Americas, has increased in the United States since Florida authorities last week reported the first signs of local transmission of the virus in the continental United States.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Will Dunham)

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