Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme borreliosis (LB) are endemic in Finland, with tens and thousands of cases, respectively, reported annually. We performed a field survey to investigate people's knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) regarding ticks, tick-borne diseases, and prevention strategies. The KAP were assessed using a pre-validated anonymous questionnaire consisting of 39 questions and statements. On two consecutive days in July 2016, convenience sampling was used in the cities of Parainen and Kotka, located in high-risk areas of tick-borne diseases, particularly of TBE. In attitudes and practices sections, each question was scored and analysed with ordered logistic regression model. In total, 101 individuals responded. The TBE vaccination rate among respondents was 40%. The best known preventive measures were having vaccination against TBE (88%), and wearing long sleeves and pants against ticks (81%). Two-thirds incorrectly identified the ring-like rash as a symptom of TBE. Of all respondents, 78% could not exclude that TBE can be treated with antibiotics; 55% that vaccine protects against LB; and 46% that it protects against ticks. The minority (14%) believed tick repellents to be effective. Among preventive behaviour, the quick removal of an attached tick was most frequently applied (97%). Repellents were used by 21% when visiting tick-infested areas. Significant associations were found between the vaccination status and having a correct belief that the vaccine protects against TBE (P<0.001) but not against ticks (P<0.05), or LB (P<0.001). KAP is a quick and easy tool to get a rough estimation on people's awareness regarding ticks and tick-borne diseases. We identified gaps in knowledge and misbeliefs. Our results can be used in public health communication tools on tick-borne diseases, especially those on intervention strategies.
Keywords: Attitudes; Knowledge; Practices; Tick-borne diseases; Tick-borne encephalitis.
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