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How Permethrin-Treated Clothing Affects Tick Behavior

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Bioassays to evaluate non-contact spatial repellency, contact irritancy, and acute toxicity of permethrin-treated clothing against nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks
 
Abstract
 
Summer-weight clothing articles impregnated with permethrin are available as a personal protective measure against human-biting ticks in the United States. However, very few studies have addressed the impact of contact with summer-weight permethrin-treated textiles on tick vigor and behavior.
 
Our aim was to generate new knowledge of how permethrin-treated textiles impact nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks, the primary vectors in the eastern United States of the causative agents of Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, and human babesiosis. We developed a series of bioassays designed to: (i) clarify whether permethrin-treated textiles impact ticks through non-contact spatial repellency or contact irritancy; (ii) evaluate the ability of ticks to remain in contact with vertically oriented permethrin-treated textiles, mimicking contact with treated clothing on arms or legs; and (iii) determine the impact of timed exposure to permethrin-treated textiles on the ability of ticks to move and orient toward a human finger stimulus, thus demonstrating normal behavior.
 
Our results indicate that permethrin-treated textiles provide minimal non-contact spatial repellency but strong contact irritancy against ticks, manifesting as a “hot-foot” effect and resulting in ticks actively dislodging from contact with vertically oriented treated textile. Preliminary data suggest that the contact irritancy hot-foot response may be weaker for field-collected nymphs as compared with laboratory-reared nymphs placed upon permethrin-treated textile.
 
We also demonstrate that contact with permethrin-treated textiles negatively impacts the vigor and behavior of nymphal ticks for >24h, with outcomes ranging from complete lack of movement to impaired movement and unwillingness of ticks displaying normal movement to ascend onto a human finger. The protective effect of summer-weight permethrin-treated clothing against tick bites merits further study.
 
Source:  By Eisen L1, Rose D2, Prose R2, Breuner NE2, Dolan MC2, Thompson K3, Connally N3. Bioassays to evaluate non-contact spatial repellency, contact irritancy, and acute toxicity of permethrin-treated clothing against nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2017 Jul 1. pii: S1877-959X(17)30210-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2017.06.010. [Epub ahead of print]

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