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Impact of Wearing and Washing/Drying of Permethrin-Treated Clothing on Their Contact Irritancy and Toxicity for Nymphal Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) Ticks
  • Published Date:
    Jan 08 2019
  • Source:
    J Med Entomol. 56(1):199-214
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Public Access Version Available on: January 08, 2020, 12:00 AM information icon
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Med Entomol
  • Description:
    Permethrin-treated clothing is available as consumer products to prevent bites by tick and insect pests. We used bioassays to examine the impact of wearing and washing/drying of permethrin-treated shirts, pants, and socks, and wearing of treated shoes, on their contact irritancy and toxicity for nymphal Ixodes scapularis Say (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks, the primary vectors in the eastern United States of the causative agents of Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, and human babesiosis. Pristine permethrin-treated clothing displayed strong contact irritancy and toxicity toward I. scapularis nymphs, with 0-30% of ticks across clothing types and tick sources displaying normal movement 1 h after forced contact for 30-120 s with treated textile. Following 16 d of wear and 16 rounds of machine washing and drying, we recorded reduced concentrations (by 50-90%) of permethrin, compared with pristine treated clothing, from shirts, pants, and socks. This loss of permethrin was associated with reduced contact irritancy and toxicity for ticks after forced contact with worn and washed/dried treated clothing: 31-67% of ticks displayed normal movement 1 h after contact. Nevertheless, the worn and washed/dried treated clothing was still superior to nontreated textile, for which 90-100% of ticks displayed normal movement. Treated shoes, which were worn but not washed, remained as toxic to the ticks as pristine treated shoes. We caution that these laboratory bioassay results should not be interpreted as being directly indicative of the outcome of using washed/worn permethrin-treated clothing in daily life. Although wear and washing/drying did reduce the irritancy and toxicity of permethrin-treated clothing for I. scapularis nymphs more than we had expected, the remaining effect might still reduce the risk of tick bites in a real-life scenario.

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