TICK-BORNE DISEASES

spraying clothing

Recommendations for Employers

Employers should protect their workers from tick-borne diseases by taking these steps:

  • Provide training for workers that includes information about the following:
    • How tick-borne diseases are spread
    • The risks of exposure and infection
    • How workers can protect themselves from ticks
    • The importance of the timely reporting of workplace illnesses and injuries
  • Recommend that workers wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and hat when possible.
    • If worker uniforms are provided, provide long-sleeved shirts and long pants as options.
  • Provide workers with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
  • Provide workers with repellents (such as Permethrin) to provide greater protection. Permethrin kills ticks on contact. It can be used on clothing but not skin.
  • When possible, have workers avoid working at sites with woods, bushes, tall grass, and leaf litter.
  • When avoiding these sites is not possible, personal protective measures are of particular importance. If work in these higher-risk sites must occur, take the following steps to reduce tick populations:
    • Remove leaf litter.
    • Remove, mow, or cut back tall grass and brush.
    • Discourage deer activity.

Recommendations for Workers

Take the following steps to protect yourself from tick bites:

  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
    • EPA’s search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs.
    • Always follow product instructions.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5%  permethrin.
    • Permethrin kills ticks on contact.
    • Permethrin can be used to treat shoes, clothing, and gear but should not be used on skin.
    • One application of permethrin to pants, socks, and shoes remains protective through several washings.
    • Alternatively, permenthrin-treated clothing is available.
  • Check your skin and clothes for ticks every day. The immature forms of these ticks are very small and may be hard to see.
    • Shower or bathe as soon as possible after working outdoors to wash off and check for ticks.
    • Remember to check your hair, underarms, and groin for ticks.
    • Immediately remove ticks from your body using fine-tipped tweezers.
    • Grasp the tick firmly and as close to your skin as possible.
    • Pull the tick’s body away from your skin with a steady motion.
    • Clean the area with soap and water.
    • Removing infected ticks within 24 hours reduces your risk of being infected with the Lyme disease bacterium.
  • Wash and dry work clothes in a hot dryer to kill any ticks present.
  • Learn the symptoms of tick-borne diseases.

If you develop symptoms of a tick-borne disease seek medical attention promptly. Be sure to tell your health care provider that you work outdoors in an area where ticks may be present.

Page last reviewed: September 22, 2011