Infestation of Peromyscus leucopus and Tamias striatus by Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in relation to the abundance of hosts and parasites

K. A. Schmidt, R. S. Ostfeld, E. M. Schauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

The risk of humans acquiring Lyme disease is a function of the local density of nymphal and adult ticks that are infected with Lyme disease spirochetes. This in turn, will be related to host-use patterns of ticks and to the densities of both juvenile ticks and their hosts. At a forested site in Dutchess County, NY, we quantified host-use patterns of larval and nymphal Ixodes scapularis Say infesting the 2 dominant vertebrate hosts, white-footed mice and eastern chipmunks, during a 3-yr period. Larval tick burdens were 2-3 times higher on mice than they were on chipmunks, whereas nymphal tick burdens were >3 times higher on chipmunks than they were on mice. We used multiple regression analysis to examine juvenile tick and host densities as independent variables influencing tick burdens. The density of questing larval ticks was positively correlated with larval tick burdens on mice, whereas the density of questing nymphs was weakly related to nymphal burdens on either host. Effects of the densities of mice and chipmunks on tick burdens were strong in some years, but weak in others. Moreover, the sign of the regression coefficients changed from one year to the next. We argue that these results are inconsistent with a passive encounter model of host selection, and suggest instead that either tick behavior or host responses cause strong biases in the distribution of juvenile ticks on their hosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-757
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1999

Keywords

  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Ixodes scapularis
  • Peromyscus leucopus
  • Tamias striatus
  • Vertebrate hosts

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Infestation of Peromyscus leucopus and Tamias striatus by Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in relation to the abundance of hosts and parasites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this