Knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding tick-borne disease prevention in endemic areas.

Affiliation

Connecticut Emerging Infections Program, Yale School of Public Health, One Church St, 7th floor, New Haven, CT, 06510, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

As part of a TickNET collaboration we evaluated the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to tick-borne disease (TBD) prevention among persons living in endemic areas of Connecticut (CT) and Maryland (MD). Up-to-date information on the use of various prevention methods, as well as attitudes toward available and potential prevention options, is critical for effective promotion of recommended behaviors. During 2016-2017, printed invitations were mailed via the post office to 27,029 households requesting participation in an online survey regarding knowledge of TBD, risk perceptions, and prevention behaviors. Prevention behaviors included tick checks, showering/bathing, insect repellents, pet tick control, and chemical or natural pesticide use on residential properties. Associations of sociodemographic characteristics and knowledge and attitude variables with prevention behaviors were assessed in unadjusted analyses and multivariable models to calculate adjusted odds ratios (aOR). Participants were also asked if they would be willing to get a Lyme disease (LD) vaccine, if one becomes available. Overall, 1883 (7%) persons completed the survey. Participants reported using preventive behaviors most of the time or always as follows: pet tick control (83%), tick checks (58%), showering/bathing (42%), insect repellent (31%), and chemical (23%) or natural (15%) pesticides on property. Self-rated knowledge of LD, perceived prevalence of LD, perceived severity of LD, and perceived likelihood of contracting LD or another TBD were significantly (p < 0.05) associated with performing a tick check [aOR 2.5, aOR 1.71, aOR 1.36, aOR 1.83, respectively]. Female gender and perceived prevalence of LD were significantly associated with applying insect repellent [aOR 1.56, aOR 1.64, respectively]. Perceived prevalence of LD was significantly associated with showering or bathing, insect repellents, and pet tick control [aOR 1.42, aOR 1.64, aOR 1.92, respectively]. Income > $100,000 was significantly associated with applying a chemical or natural pesticide to one's property [aOR 1.29, aOR 1.40, respectively]. A majority of respondents (84%) reported that they were very likely or somewhat likely to get a LD vaccine if one were available. Few behaviors (tick checks and pet tick control) were reported to be practiced by more than half of the respondents living in LD endemic areas. Perceived prevalence of LD was the only factor associated with performing most of the prevention behaviors (tick checks, showering/bathing, use of insect repellents, and pet tick control). Use of chemical or natural pesticides appears to be driven by income. Greater efforts are needed to encourage use of prevention behaviors in endemic areas, and this may be facilitated by increasing awareness of local prevalence.

Keywords

Tick-borne disease attitudes,Tick-borne disease behavior,Tick-borne disease knowledge,Tick-borne disease prevention,Tick-borne diseases,Ticks,

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