E-Journal Bonus Article: Prevention of Tick Exposure in Environmental Health Specialists Working in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina
Environmental health specialists (EHS) conduct many occupational activities outdoors that may place them at increased risk for contracting a vectorborne disease. We conducted a risk assessment for tick exposure in EHS by analyzing job description, tick exposure, and the extent to which personal protective measures (PPM) were used. This pilot study focuses on eight counties in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and follows 29 EHS during May through August 2014. A survey was administered to participants at the beginning of the study and showed that participants used PPM while working outdoors in environments conducive to tick exposure. Participants reported wearing PPM only 16% of the time they spent working outdoors. More than 28% of respondents self-reported having previously experienced a tickborne disease (primarily Rocky Mountain spotted fever) and one participant reported receiving medical treatment for a tickborne disease during the course of the study. Participants were exposed to two tick species (Amblyomma americanum Linnaeus; Dermacentor variabilis Say) and 279 ticks were submitted to researchers during the study. Although 70% of respondents reported being knowledgeable about tickborne disease, low PPM usage indicates either EHS do not believe the threat is significant, or they believe PPM available to them are ineffective.
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Speaker / Author:
R. Edwin Stott, II, MSEH, REHS
Stephanie L. Richards, MSEH, PhD
Jo Anne G. Balanay, PhD, CIH
Glenn L. Martin, MSEH, REHS