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Spatiotemporal variation in a Lyme disease host and vector: black-legged ticks on white-footed mice.

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Abstract

We monitored population density of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), burdens of immature black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) on mice, and infection prevalence of host-seeking ticks on six forest plots in southeastern New York State from 1995 through 1999. Despite densities of mice that fluctuated two orders of magnitude, average larval and nymphal tick burdens per mouse remained remarkably constant. Spatial variability in mouse density and tick burdens was modest. The total number of larval and nymphal ticks that fed on the mouse population each year depended strongly on population density of mice; a steady increase was observed in both mouse density and total tick meals on mice from 1996 through 1999. The result was a steady increase in the infection prevalence of nymphal and adult ticks with the etiological agent of
Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, over this time. We suggest that fluctuations in population density of mice, combined with possible regulation of tick burdens on mice, may influence risk of human exposure to
Lyme disease.

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2001 Summer;1(2):129-38. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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