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Linkages of Weather and Climate With Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae), Enzootic Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, and Lyme Disease in North America
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Med Entomol
  • Description:
    Lyme disease has increased both in incidence and geographic extent in the United States and Canada over the past two decades. One of the underlying causes is changes during the same time period in the distribution and abundance of the primary vectors: Ixodes scapularis Say and Ixodes pacificus Cooley and Kohls in eastern and western North America, respectively. Aside from short periods of time when they are feeding on hosts, these ticks exist in the environment where temperature and relative humidity directly affect their development, survival, and host-seeking behavior. Other important factors that strongly influence tick abundance as well as the proportion of ticks infected with the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, include the abundance of hosts for the ticks and the capacity of tick hosts to serve as B. burgdorferi reservoirs. Here, we explore the linkages between climate variation and: 1) duration of the seasonal period and the timing of peak activity; 2) geographic tick distributions and local abundance; 3) enzootic B. burgdorferi transmission cycles; and 4) Lyme disease cases. We conclude that meteorological variables are most influential in determining host-seeking phenology and development, but, while remaining important cofactors, additional variables become critical when exploring geographic distribution and local abundance of ticks, enzootic transmission of B. burgdorferi, and Lyme disease case occurrence. Finally, we review climate change-driven projections for future impact on vector ticks and Lyme disease and discuss knowledge gaps and research needs.
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