Tick ecology and Lyme disease risk

Lyme disease is closely associated with local ecology (Fish, 1993; Gern and Falco, 2000). Therefore, understanding the dynamic nature of Lyme disease risk requires an understanding of the ecology of vector ticks, including their seasonal and annual activity patterns, as well as the ecology of B. burgdorferi with respect to ticks and reservoir hosts.

There are four tick species that are primary vectors for Lyme disease: I. scapu-laris (= I. dammini) (Oliver et al, 1993) in the eastern and midwestern US and Canada, I. pacificus in the western US, I. ricinus in Europe, and I. persulcatus in Eurasia (Gern and Falco, 2000). Due to the high prevalence of Lyme disease in the eastern US and the fact that suburbanization in the eastern US as it relates to Lyme disease risk is the primary focus of this chapter, we will use the life history of I. scapularis, commonly called the "black-legged tick" or "deer tick," as a model for our discussion of tick ecology.

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