Permethrin-treated clothing to protect one against ticks/lyme now available in Canada

Kudos to Marks for developing their No Fly Zone products just for Canadians!

tickA few years back (2014) I set up a website and started an Online Petition “to help put pressure on our health officials and politicians to allow & promote safe and sensible use of permethrin treatment of clothing & other fabrics (e.g. tents) in Canada.”

It didn’t get very far, nor did my appeals to Dr. Strang (NS Chief Medical Officer of Health ) to push Health Canada on this front.

So I was pleased to learn recently that Marks Warehouse is now carrying a line of tick- (and mosquito-) repellant clothing:

After years of frustration, Canadians are now able to purchase clothing that is commercially treated to protect against mosquitoes and ticks and the diseases they can carry.

Using “No Fly Zone by Burlington” technology, Marks (aka Marks Work Wearhouse) released a line of men’s and women’s clothing under its Wind River label in May. Shirts, pants, jackets and hats produced with permethrin-treated cloth are now available in major Marks outlets and online at

Similar clothing manufactured with the insecticide permethrin has been available in the rest of the world for years.

From Permethrin-treated clothing arrives in Canada by Brian Patton, posted on, June 14, 2018

As I had found and as noted by Brian Patton, the PMRA (Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency) “has been reluctant to approve these products, even though Health Canada recommends that people purchase permethrin-treated clothing when travelling into areas of the world where insect-transmitted diseases are common”.

The PMRA took the unusual step (compared to other countries) of stipulating that “all clothing and headwear be produced with a lining, a second layer acting as a barrier between the permethrin-treated cloth and the wearer.”

Also, reports Patton, “Marks is not allowed to advertise that its clothing is effective against ticks”. Marks markets their insect repellant clothing under a “No Fly Zone” label. Apparently “No Fly Zone Mosquito Repellent technology keeps those biting critters away” is all that the PMRA allows Marks to state about the insect-repelling properties. Marks also states that “The treatment is odourless and invisible, and it’s effective through 70 washes,” which must also have been approved by the PMRA.

Before I purchased permethrin-treated clothing several years ago (in the U.S.), I looked for any evidence that it could be harmful to the person wearing the clothing and found none, except allergic reactions in some people which should be readily detected. The Canadian Military had been using permethrin-treated clothing for years and Health Canada was advising Canadians to use treated clothing when travelling to areas of concern outside of Canada – without any warnings about possible adverse effects. (View website for more discussion of those topics.)

I also looked for scientific evidence that it is effective and was impressed by a study of North Carolina state employees with outdoor occupations who had reported “multiple tick bites each year, indicating that existing tick preventive strategies [equivalent to those advised by NS Health] may be underutilized or ineffective”. The researchers found that “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…[providing] preliminary evidence that long-lasting permethrin-impregnated clothing may be highly effective against tick bites” (Vaughn and Meshnick 2011).

Patton refers to a 2018 study by Robert Prose et al. in the Journal of Medical Entomology that came to similar conclusions. (View a separate summary of the study.)

Permethrin-treated clothing is certainly not a silver bullet in prevention of lyme, but it can help. I feel more at ease when I wear it when I am active in a habitat/region of the province/season all known to favour the odds of being bitten by a lyme-carrying deer tick, and so far, so good.

Nova Scotia, in particular western Nova Scotia, has the highest incidence of lyme disease in Canada:

Lyme disease cases per 100,000 people
in 2016 by province

NL 0.2
PEI: 2.7
NS: 34.4
NB: 1.5
Que: 2.1
Ont: 2.7
Man 3.9
Sask: 0.1
Alta: 0.2
BC: 0.8
The territories: 0
The figures are presented on a map of Canada in the July 2018
print issue of MacLeans Magazine, p 17

All that hair on kids provides a great hiding place for nymphs.

So, hopefully, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness will now list permethrin-treated clothing as one of the ways to prevent or reduce contact with ticks on its page on Lyme Disease. However, the heavy hand of the PMRA prob. won’t allow them to do so, re: stipulations to Marks on advertising cited above.

Hopefully also the PMRA will approve permethrin products for treating one’s own clothing but I likewise don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

The commercially available treated clothing is pricey, but even purchasing just a hat for a kid could keep a lyme-carrying tick or two away.

Kudos to Marks for developing their No Fly Zone products just for Canadians! (Shh, don’t mention ticks.)

Also on

Could forest fragmentation be a factor in the high incidence of blacklegged tick/lyme in Nova Scotia?
Post June 16, 2018

Forestry>Pests>Ticks & Lyme


A comment on the No Fly Zone pants:

“I used these pants during the hottest part of the summer and was quite comfortable (polyester-spandex doesn’t cling to damp skin). Many excellent features include zip pockets and shock-corded cuffs. The latter allow for a snug seal around ankles and make these pants your best choice in areas where black-legged ticks and Lyme disease are prevalent. I actually appreciate the silky lining (required by Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency), which allows the pants to slip on and off easily. Be aware that sizing is generous (my size 36 fit more like a 38, but the elastic waistband compensated). While the price may seem dear, it is actually far less than comparable permethrin-treated clothing in the U.S.”

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