Ixodes scapularis density and Borrelia burgdorferi prevalence along a residential-woodland gradient in a region of emerging Lyme disease risk

TitleIxodes scapularis density and Borrelia burgdorferi prevalence along a residential-woodland gradient in a region of emerging Lyme disease risk
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
JournalSci Rep
Volume14
Date Published06/2024
AuthorsLogan JJ, Knudby AJ, Leighton P, Talbot B, McKay R, Ramsay T, Blanford JI, Ogden NH, Kulkarni MA
KeywordsEcological epidemiology, epidemiology, Urban ecology
Abstract

The environmental risk of Lyme disease, defined by the density of Ixodes scapularis ticks and their prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi infection, is increasing across the Ottawa, Ontario region, making this a unique location to explore the factors associated with environmental risk along a residential-woodland gradient. In this study, we collected I. scapularis ticks and trapped Peromyscus spp. mice, tested both for tick-borne pathogens, and monitored the intensity of foraging activity by deer in residential, woodland, and residential-woodland interface zones of four neighbourhoods. We constructed mixed-effect models to test for site-specific characteristics associated with densities of questing nymphal and adult ticks and the infection prevalence of nymphal and adult ticks. Compared to residential zones, we found a strong increasing gradient in tick density from interface to woodland zones, with 4 and 15 times as many nymphal ticks, respectively. Infection prevalence of nymphs and adults together was 15 to 24 times greater in non-residential zone habitats. Ecological site characteristics, including soil moisture, leaf litter depth, and understory density, were associated with variations in nymphal density and their infection prevalence. Our results suggest that high environmental risk bordering residential areas poses a concern for human-tick encounters, highlighting the need for targeted disease prevention.

URLhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC11161484/