Tick Study Using Insect Shield Repellent Clothing

Forestry Shirt: Tick Study Using Insect Shield Repellent Clothing

Research study assessing the effectiveness of permethrin treated clothing for the prevention of tick bites.

Journal: Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 

Authors: Meagan Vaughn and Steven Meshnick – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Department of Epidemiology


Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are a significant concern for many thousands of workers who have frequent and unavoidable exposure to tick infested habitats. Many North Carolina state employees with outdoor occupations report multiple tick bites each year, indicating that existing tick preventive strategies may be underutilized or ineffective. Treatment of clothing with permethrin, a nontoxic chemical with insecticidal, knockdown, and repellent properties, is highly effective against ticks.

However, most permethrin products must be reapplied after several washings in order to maintain insecticidal activity. Insect Shield has developed a factory-based process for treating apparel such as shirts, pants, socks, and uniforms with permethrin repellent that allows clothing to retain repellency for over 70 washes.


A nonrandomized open label pilot study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of Insect Shield treated clothing for the prevention of tick bites among sixteen outdoor workers from the North Carolina Division of Water Quality under actual field conditions. Participants completed questionnaires at the start of follow-up (March, 2008) and at the end of follow-up (September, 2008), and tick bites and outdoor work hours were reported on weekly tick bite logs for the entire follow-up period.


Subjects wearing Insect Shield treated clothing had a 93% reduction (p<0.0001) in the total incidence of tick bites compared to subjects using standard tick bite prevention measures.

The rate of tick bites acquired during work hours was reduced by approximately 99% (p<0.0001) among subjects wearing Insect Shield treated clothing.


This study provides evidence that permethrin-treated clothing may be highly effective against tick bites.