Risk of tick-borne diseases in various categories of employment among forestry workers in eastern Poland

Ewa Cisak 1,  
Department of Zoonoses, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2012;19(3):469–474
Among the zoonotic agents causing occupational diseases, those transmitted by ticks are very important, in particular the spirochetes [i]Borrelia burgdorferi[/i] which are the common cause of occupational Lyme borreliosis in forestry and agricultural workers. The objective of this study was an evaluation of the exposure of forestry workers employed at individual workplaces to infection with tick-borne pathogens (especially [i]Borrelia burgdorferi[/i] spirochetes), based on epidemiological investigation and serologic tests. Epidemiological studies covered 111 forestry employees from eastern Poland employed in 4 randomly-selected forest inspectorates which replied to questions in the area of epidemiology and prophylaxis of diseases transmitted by ticks. Eighty-two forestry workers employed in one forest inspectorate were examined for the presence of specific anti-[i]Borrelia burgdorferi[/i] antibodies. The correlation between individual items of the questionnaire was assessed by Spearman’s test. Results of serological tests were assessed by Mann-Whitney test. Statistical analysis of the results indicated that the workers performing manual jobs in the forest are at the greatest risk of tick bite and contraction of tick-borne disease. They are aware of the risk, but use the improper method of removal of ticks with the fingers. Comparisons of the relationship between job category and the results of serologic study, expressed in BBU/ml, revealed that the serologic response was significantly greater in manual workers than in administrative workers (p=0.019). All other comparisons did not produce significant results. Therefore, providing a simple tweezer-like device to forest inspectorates seems to be an effective mean of protection against Lyme borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases.