Abstract

Title:  Deer check stations help define disease distribution: implications for Lyme disease risk in Tennessee
Author(s): Michelle E. Rosen, Graham J. Hickling–University of Tennessee; Jean I. Tsao– Michigan State University
Year: 2009
Abstract: Lyme disease (LD) is caused by the spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, which, in the eastern United States, is transmitted by the bite of the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Whether LD is endemic in Tennessee and adjacent states has been a topic of much recent debate, in part because current tick distribution maps suggest that I. scapularis rarely is found in this region. In 2006 and 2007, we investigated the distribution, abundance, and pathogen status of this tick species in Tennessee through examination of ticks collected from hunter-harvested deer at check stations across the state. We detected adult I. scapularis in 20 Tennessee counties that had no prior occurrence records for this tick. In central Tennessee (Regions 2 and 3), 31% of 172 deer checked were infested with I. scapularis. Harvest locations of heavily-infested deer led us to study sites where we undertook monthly surveys for all life stages of I. scapularis host-seeking in vegetation. The resulting phenology enabled us to show, for the first time, that nymphal I. scapularis ticks in Tennessee exhibit the same kind of host-seeking behavior that results in elevated risk of human LD in the Northeast. Laboratory assays and additional field studies are underway to determine the extent to which the LD pathogen may be present in these Tennessee ticks. The results of these pathogen investigations will be presented and the value of hunter participation in check stations emphasized. * Student Presentation

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