Florida Public Health Review

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Background. In summer 2016, Miami-Dade County, Florida, declared a public health emergency when reports of locally acquired Zika infections were confirmed. Officials at a large public university in the county warned students of the risks and advocated the use of repellents and permethrin to prevent mosquito bites. A subsequent study showed few students (2.9%) sprayed their clothes with permethrin. Purpose. In the absence of a safe and effective vaccine, a team of Master of Public Health students sought to determine if a brief educational intervention might increase permethrin use. Methods. Students living in six dormitories were chosen as the population of interest. Three dormitories were randomly assigned to an experimental condition (information about Zika) and three to a control condition (information about psychological counseling services). A questionnaire was distributed to participants immediately before and again immediately after a 20-30-minute educational presentation. The educational intervention was developed following the six steps of Intervention Mapping for Health Promotion Planning. Responses to questionnaire items were coded and analyzed. Results. After exposure to an educational program on Zika infections and prevention, significant increases (pdefinitely use permethrin to prevent mosquito bites increased from 17.3% at baseline to 40.7% at follow-up (p=.01). No significant differences in pre- and post-intervention scores were noted for the 51 students in the control condition. Discussion. A brief educational intervention can be effective in promoting permethrin use to prevent Zika and other mosquito-borne infections among college students. Permethrin and instructions for proper use should be included in Zika prevention kits.