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Habitat distribution of Ixodes dammini (Acari: Ixodidae) an Lyme disease spirochetes on Fire Island, New York.

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Abstract

The distributions of Ixodes dammini Spielman, Clifford, Piesman, and Corwin and
Lyme disease spirochetes were studied on Fire Island, N.Y. Adult ticks were more common in high-shrub habitats (shrubby vegetation greater than or equal to 1 m high) than in grassy and lowshrub habitats (vegetation less than 1 m) in spring and fall. In the fall, adults were also common in the woods. Adults were more abundant on narrow trails than in nearby vegetation. During the summer, questing nymphs and larvae were far more common in the woods (primarily in leaf litter) than in open grass-shrub habitats. In contrast, the number of nymphs and larvae per white-footed mouse did not differ among habitats, suggesting that mice play a role in tick dispersal. CO2 trap captures of nymphs on trails were not significantly greater than off trails. Most collections of larvae and nymphs had more than one tick, whereas most samples of adults had only one individual. Borrelia burgdorferi infection rates in free-living ticks were 38% (n = 12) to 50% (n = 32) in adults, 32% in nymphs (n = 184), and 0% in larvae (n = 15). The proportion of ticks infected did not differ significantly among habitats. Therefore, during the spring and fall, activities that take place in high-shrub areas or in the woods (e.g., landscaping, trail or brush clearing) involve a high risk of exposure to adult ticks infected with
Lyme disease. In late spring to early summer, any activity involving close contact with leaf litter (e.g., playing in the leaves, gathering leaves for camp bedding) results in a high risk of exposure to infected nymphs.

J Med Entomol. 1989 May;26(3):183-9. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, Non-P.H.S.

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