The risks of tick bite disease and the effects on the immune system are becoming more frequent.1 The incidence of the disease is rising partially due to environmental health issues causing changes in wildlife populations.1 Fortunately, a recent clinical trial may have a solution with clothing to protect the immune system.
Lyme disease as an occupational hazard
The occupational risk of tick-borne diseases is becoming more common with the global climate crisis causing changes in wildlife populations.2 To date, tick-prevention methods have been inadequate.1 Annually, thousands of people are admitted to hospitals due to tick bites, and there is a gap between preventive measures and targeted treatments.2
Prevention is the ideal, and previous repellant methods aren’t enough.3 Studies have shown that uniforms soaked in permethrin – a substance known to be an insecticide, reduces tick bites by more than 80% among outdoor workers.3
These uniforms retain tick-repellant activity over 70 washes; however, increased exposure to environmental conditions will diminish the effectiveness of the permethrin on the uniforms within about one year.3
Tick bite disease
Tick bite disease is medically known as Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite that transmits microorganisms that attack the body. This attack causes an immune response that can damage organs and tissues and even be fatal.2 Lyme disease puts campers and outdoor enthusiasts at risk and children who enjoy exploration and play in nature. This disease is also an occupational risk threatening those who work outdoors near tall grass or forestry.
Tick pathogen transmission
Infected ticks pierce the top layers of the skin, becoming a site of transmission for pathogens to infect the body cause illness.1 Tick saliva contains molecules and microorganisms that aid the assembly of disease.1 These mechanisms affect the immune system, inhibiting the body’s natural defences, causing various symptoms.1
Symptoms of tick bites
If you suspect a tick bite and are feeling unwell, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms vary, and diagnosis can be challenging due to similarity of symptoms of other illnesses. In addition, healthcare providers may inquire about recent places travelled and will require a blood test to identify Lyme disease.4 Signs of a tick bite may include:
- a rash
- a new skin mark that is oval or looks like a bull’s eye,
- swollen lymph nodes,
- and muscle and joint pain.4
Diseases caused by ticks are often treated with antibiotics.4 In most instances, treatment is based on how long the tick was attached to the skin and if there’s a history of exposure to ticks.5 Early diagnoses and treatment can prevent complications and improve the success of recovery.
- Strobl J, Mundler V, Muller S, et al. Tick feeding modulates the human skin immune landscape to facilitate tick-borne pathogen transmission. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2022;132:1-13. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI161188
- Skare JT and Garcia BL. Complement Evasion by Lyme disease spirochetes. Trends in Microbiology 28, no. 11 (2020): 889-899. Accessed January 2, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2020.05.004
- Vaughn MF, Funkhouser SW, Lin F, et al. Long-lasting permethrin impregnated uniforms. American journal of Preventative Medicine. 2014;46:473-480. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.01.008
- Lyme disease: Symptoms and treatment. Government of Canada. Modified November 11, 2022. Accessed December 3, 2022.https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease.html
- Lyme disease. Mayo Clinic. November 18, 2022. Accessed on December 4, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374655