Knowledge and prevention of tickborne diseases among Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents of Maryland and Virginia.
Tickborne diseases (TBDs) such as Lyme disease (LD), babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever cause substantial morbidity and even mortality in the USA. Data indicate that Hispanic populations may be at greater risk for occupational exposure to ticks and disseminated LD; however, information on knowledge and practices of Hispanic populations regarding TBDs is limited. We surveyed 153 Hispanic and 153 non-Hispanic residents of Maryland and Virginia to assess awareness of TBDs, prevention practices and risk of tick encounters. Hispanic respondents were less likely than non-Hispanics to report familiarity with LD symptoms (21% vs. 53%, p<0.001) and correctly identify ticks as vectors of LD (40% vs. 85%, p<0.001). Although there was no significant difference in overall proportion of respondents who routinely take one or more preventive measures to prevent tick bites (59% vs. 61%, p=0.65), Hispanics were more likely to report showering after coming indoors (36% vs. 25%, p=0.04) but less likely to conduct daily tick checks compared with non-Hispanics (17% vs. 35%, p<0.001). History of tick bite or finding a tick crawling on oneself or a household member in the past year did not significantly differ between Hispanics and non-Hispanics (19% vs. 24%, p=0.26). Notably, after controlling for Hispanic/non-Hispanic ethnicity, primary language (English vs. Spanish) was a significant predictor of whether an individual had knowledge of LD symptoms, correctly identified ticks as vectors for LD and performed daily tick checks. These results provide guidance for future development of more targeted and effective TBD prevention education for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities.