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Use of a simulation model to study the effects of the composition of wildlife populations on the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato by Ixodes ricinus Ixodidae Effetto della composizione delle popolazioni faunistiche sulla trasmissione di Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato da parte di Ixodes ricinus Ixodidae studio con un modello di simulazione



Use of a simulation model to study the effects of the composition of wildlife populations on the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato by Ixodes ricinus Ixodidae Effetto della composizione delle popolazioni faunistiche sulla trasmissione di Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato da parte di Ixodes ricinus Ixodidae studio con un modello di simulazione



Ibex Journal of Mountain Studies. Autumn; 7: 137-144(Suppl.)



Using a graphical modelling environment, a simulation model was built for the population of Ixodes ricinus, the tick that transmits the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato)in western Europe. Simulations were carried out with different scenarios regarding the composition of wildlife hosts populations. At low density of Roe deer Capreolus capreolus, 5 heads/100 ha, tick population growth was slow (annual reproductive rate R=1.1), and a high proportion (52%) of host-seeking ticks was infected with B. burgdorferi sl. At increased density of Roe deer (30 / 100 ha) tick population growth was fast (R=2.9). Prevalence of B. burgdorferi sl was however reduced due to the high proportion of ticks feeding on Roe deer, which are considered incompetent as reservoirs for the disease agent. In a third scenario, deer density was kept high, but small rodents (Apodemus spp and Clethrionomys glareolus, the major reservoirs for B. burgdorferi sl) are reduced from 50 / ha to 12.5 / ha. Tick population still grows fast (R=2.1), but infection prevalence drops to 20%. The results of the model correspond to previous field observations demonstrating the major role of wild ungulates in determining tick abundance, whereas small rodents determine the frequency of B. burgdorferi sl in ticks. As observed in northern Europe, high deer densities are associated with high risk of Lyme borreliosis in humans and other susceptible animals, due to amplified tick populations, although they reduce tick infection prevalence. After appropriate changes, this model will be suitable to gain theoretical insight in potential mechanisms underlying the low frequency of B. burgdorferi sl that is reported for certain areas of central Italy.

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