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Treating Clothes With Permethrin Insecticide May Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases: Other Effective Ways To Prevent Tick Bites

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Insecticide-treated clothes marketed to prevent tick bites work and may help prevent tick-borne diseases, a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed.

Tick-Borne Diseases

In a report published on May 1, the CDC said that the number of tick-borne diseases more than doubled in the past 13 years and account for over 60 percent of all illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites.

Tick-borne bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Some of the common tick-borne diseases in the United States include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Colorado tick fever, Q fever, and Powassan encephalitis. Lyme disease is the most common of reported tick-borne diseases in the country.

Permethrin-Treated Clothing May Prevent Tick Bites

In experiments, Lars Eisen, from CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and colleagues found that clothing treated with the insecticide permethrin have toxic effects on three species of ticks that spread disease-causing pathogens.

In the study published in the Entomological Society of America's Journal of Medical Entomology on May 24, researchers found that exposure to permethrin affects the ability of ticks to move properly, which makes them slugging and interferes with their ability to bite.

"Loss of normal movement for all ticks 1 h after contact with the permethrin-treated textile required exposures of 1 min for I. scapularis nymphs, 2 min for A. americanum nymphs, and 5 min for female I. scapularis, D. variabilis, and A. americanum ticks," the researchers wrote in their study.

"We conclude that use of permethrin-treated clothing shows promise to prevent bites by medically important ticks."

Other Ways To Prevent Tick Bites And Tick-Borne Diseases

Insect repellant sprays may help prevent tick bites. The CDC recommends using one that contains at least 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.

Ticks live in wooded, grassy, and brushy areas. Avoid these areas or walk in the center of trails. Be aware that people also get ticks from their own backyard or neighborhood.

Use permethrin-treated clothing or enough fabric that can prevent these pests from digging into the skin.

Check for ticks that may have latched on to clothing, gears, and pets. Thoroughly check the body as well.

Wash the clothes properly with hot water to kill ticks. Showering within two hours after venturing outdoors has also been shown to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, and likely of other tick-borne diseases.

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