Hispanic population at greater risk for Lyme disease
Outdoor workers are at a greater risk of getting a tick bite than the general population. In fact, their risk is more than 5 times greater, explains Hu in the journal Zoonoses Public Health. Many of those outdoor workers are Hispanic, who represent “44.8% of grounds maintenance workers and 42.8% of workers in the farming, fishing and forestry industries,” Hu writes, citing U.S. Department of Labor Statistics from 2018.
In their article, “Knowledge and prevention of tick-borne diseases among Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents of Maryland and Virginia,” Hu and colleagues examined U.S. Lyme disease (LD) surveillance data and found that “Hispanics were more likely to have disseminated LD compared with non-Hispanics.”
The authors summarized several potential concerns for the Hispanic population:
- “lack of health insurance among much of the population leading to delayed care”
- “language barriers when accessing health care”
- “lack of awareness of early LD symptoms”
In addition, the study found Hispanic individuals had a different understanding of Lyme disease (in two areas) when compared to non-Hispanic people.
- Hispanic respondents were less likely (21%) than non‐Hispanics (53%) to report familiarity with Lyme disease symptoms.
- Hispanic respondents were less likely (40%) than non‐Hispanics (85%) to correctly identify ticks as vectors of Lyme disease.
Hispanic individuals also differed in some areas of personal protection.
- Hispanic respondents were less likely (17%) than non‐Hispanics (35%) to check for ticks daily.
- However, Hispanic respondents were more likely (36%) than non‐Hispanics (25%) to shower after coming indoors.
A language barrier played a role in impacting the Hispanic population’s understanding of Lyme disease. According to Hu, “primary English speakers had approximately 2‐ to 10‐fold greater odds of knowledge and preventive practices for LD as compared to primary Spanish speakers.”
The authors’ study demonstrates the dire need for linguistically appropriate education and outreach for the Hispanic population.
- Hu SY, Starr JA, Gharpure R, Mehta SP, Feldman KA, Nelson CA. Knowledge and prevention of tickborne diseases among Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents of Maryland and Virginia. Zoonoses Public Health. 2019.