Preventing exposure to ticks and tick-borne illness in outdoor workers ABSTRACT In North Carolina, tick-borne diseases represent a growing public health problem and an occupational hazard for outdoor workers. Currently, tick-bite prevention requires time- consuming reapplication of insecticides to clothing and exposed skin. Unfortunately, adherence to these procedures is poor. Recently, a factory-based method for long- lasting permethrin impregnation of clothing has been developed which allows clothing to retain insecticidal activity for over 70 washes (the effective lifetime of a garment). The treatment process has been approved by the US EPA and classified as non-toxic. We have preliminary evidence from a small pilot project suggesting that workers wearing this clothing have ~90% fewer tick bites than workers not wearing this clothing. In order to measure the effectiveness and safety of this clothing in protecting outdoor workers, we are proposing a randomized controlled intervention with 300 workers in the NC State Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR). Outdoor workers in the Division of Forestry and the Division of Parks and Recreation will be randomly assigned to two groups. Workers will have their uniforms treated or sham-treated in a double- blinded manner. All study subjects will fill out weekly tick logs, and keep removed ticks in specimen vials for later speciation and pathogen detection. Serum samples, drawn at enrollment and study conclusion will be titered for antibody to common tick-borne pathogens. Possible clothing-related adverse events, such as rashes, will be recorded. The results of this study could lead to a simple and cost-effective method of protecting outdoor workers from tick-borne illnesses.

Public Health Relevance

Tick-borne infectious diseases are a major occupational hazard for outdoor workers, including employees of the North Carolina State Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This project involves testing the effectiveness of long-lasting permethrin- treated uniforms in reducing tick exposures in North Carolina Forestry and Parks Department employees.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
3R01OH009874-04S1
Application #
8723374
Study Section
Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
Program Officer
Dearwent, Steve
Project Start
2010-09-01
Project End
2014-08-31
Budget Start
2013-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$35,701
Indirect Cost
$9,103
Name
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Department
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Type
Schools of Public Health
DUNS #
608195277
City
Chapel Hill
State
NC
Country
United States
Zip Code
27599
Vaughn, Meagan F; Delisle, Josie; Johnson, Joey et al. (2014) Seroepidemiologic study of human infections with spotted fever group Rickettsiae in North Carolina. J Clin Microbiol 52:3960-6