Microclimate Determinants of Host Seeking Behavior in Nymphal Ixodes Scapularis Ticks and Borrelia Burgdorferi Infection Prevalence in New England, 2013

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Maria Diuk-Wasser
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Tick-borne pathogens are the most significant source of vector-borne disease in the United States, accounting for over 300,000 cases of human illness annually. Due to its particular relevance to the Northeast United States, this paper focuses on the disease system associated with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. In particular, this paper focuses on the ecology surrounding the nymphal Ixodes scapularis tick, a vector that is critical to the pathogen’s lifecycle . Based on data collected in the summer of 2013, my thesis investigates the role of microclimate factors in mediating nymphal tick activity. Although the data are inconclusive, I identify potential trends and areas for further study. Additionally, I present preliminary infection prevalence data for sites in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut from the 2013 field season. Informed by this analysis, this paper concludes by addressing the interplay between disease risk management and traditional environmental goals, such as climate change mitigation, increased biodiversity and reforestation.