Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
College of Science and Mathematics
Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair
Mary G. Egan
Kirsten J. Monsen
Lisa C. Hazard
Studying vector populations of the Ixodes scapularis tick is of major importance in New Jersey, an endemic area of Lyme disease. This species of tick is a vector for various disease pathogens including the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. This study focused on Ixodes scapularis tick surveillance at the New Jersey School of Conservation, in Sussex County, New Jersey. Collection of host-seeking ticks began in July 2009 and has continued until December of 2010, by drag-cloth sampling in order to monitor tick abundances of all life-cycle stages.
In 2010 relative abundances for larvae and nymphal stages declined as compared to the year 2009 data, as opposed to the adult stage where the relative abundances increased. In 2009, larvae Ixodes scapularis had a peak relative abundance in August of -0.145 ticks/m2 and in August of 2010 this decreased by 61% to -0.056 ticks/m2. Nymphal relative abundances decreased by 42%, in July 2009 the peak relative abundance was -0.036 ticks/m2 and in June 2010 peaked at -0.021 ticks/m2. In the fall, adult Ixodes scapularis ’ relative abundance peaked in November 2009 at -0.007 ticks/m2 and in October 2010 at -0.034 ticks/m2, showing a 486% increase. In the spring of 2010 adults from the 2009 fall that overwintered had an additional peak relative abundance at -0.006 ticks/m2. In addition, preliminary analyses of nymphal Ixodes scapularis infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi were conducted. An infection rate of -54.5% was found from a sample size of 11 nymphs.
Although the infection rate of B. burgdorferi for the nymphal stage is the only available data for infection thus far, in the future, work will be conducted analyze infection for additional nymphs and adults as well as tests for other pathogens acquired and transmitted by this tick vector. This information as well as future analysis of the population trends and abundances during activity periods will benefit our understanding of the public health risks that the Ixodes scapularis tick poses in New Jersey and in other endemic areas for tick-borne diseases.
Salazar-Vasquez, Nathaly M., "A Molecular Ecological Survey of Tick (Ixodes scapularis) Population Density and Their Infection Rates with Borrelia burgdorferi at the New Jersey School of Conservation" (2011). Theses, Dissertations and Culminating Projects. 970.