|Collaborative Modeling of the Tick-Borne Disease Social-Ecological System: A Conceptual Framework
|Year of Publication
|Urcuqui-Bustamante AM, Leahy JE, Sponarski C, Gardner AM
Hard-bodied ticks have become a major concern in temperate regions because they transmit a variety of pathogens of medical significance. Ticks and pathogens interact with hosts in a complex social-ecological system (SES) that influences human exposure to tick-borne diseases (TBD). We argue that addressing the urgent public health threat posed by TBD requires an understanding of the integrated processes in the forest ecosystem that influence tick density and infection prevalence, transmission among ticks, animal hosts, and ultimately disease prevalence in humans. We argue that collaborative modeling of the human-tick SES is required to understand the system dynamics as well as move science toward policy action. Recent studies in human health have shown the importance of stakeholder participation in understanding the factors that contribute to human exposure to zoonotic diseases. We discuss how collaborative modeling can be applied to understand the impacts of forest management practices on ticks and TBD. We discuss the potential of collaborative modeling for encouraging participation of diverse stakeholders in discussing the implications of managing forest ticks in the absence of large-scale control policy.