A determination of the spatial concordance between Lyme disease incidence and habitat probability of its primary vector Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick)

  • Samuel F. Atkinson | atkinson@unt.edu Institute of Applied Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, United States.
  • Sahotra Sarkar Integrative Biology and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin, United States.
  • Aldo Aviña Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Health Science Center, University of North Texas, Fort Worth, United States.
  • Jim A. Schuermann Infectious Disease Control Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, United States.
  • Phillip Williamson Scientific Affairs, Creative Testing Solutions, Tempe, United States.

Abstract

The spatial distribution of Ixodes scapularis, the most common tick vector of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease in humans, has not been studied previously in Texas, United States of America. It has only rarely been reported in this state, so its local, spatial relationship to the distribution of this disease is unknown. From an epidemi- ological perspective, one would tend to hypothesise that there should be a high degree of spatial concordance between habi- tat suitability for the tick and incidence of the disease. Both maximum-entropy modelling of the tick’s habitat probability and modelling of human incidence of Lyme disease using spatially adaptive filters provide reliable portrayals of the spatial distributions of these phenomena. Even though rates of human cases of Lyme disease as well as rates of Ixodes ticks infected with Borrelia bacteria are both relatively low in Texas, the best data currently available indicate that the assumption of high levels of spatial concordance would not be correct in Texas (Kappa coefficient of agreement = 0.039). It will take substan- tially more data to provide conclusive findings and to understand the results reported here, but this study provides an approach to begin understanding the discrepancy.

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Published
2014-11-01
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Lyme disease, Ixodes scapularis, habitat probability, United States of America.
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How to Cite
Atkinson, S. F., Sarkar, S., Aviña, A., Schuermann, J. A., & Williamson, P. (2014). A determination of the spatial concordance between Lyme disease incidence and habitat probability of its primary vector Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick). Geospatial Health, 9(1), 203-212. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2014.17