, Volume 35, Issue 1-2, pp 131-146

Five decades of tick–man interaction in Denmark – an analysis

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Abstract

The tick Ixodes ricinus (L.) is a known vector of several zoonotic diseases such as Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE), Lyme borreliosis and ehrlichiosis. The interaction between humans and ticks are at the very core of our understanding of the epidemiology of tick borne zoonoses, but only few experimental studies have been performed. Hence our understanding of the epidemiology of tick-borne disease has to rest on the assumption that the potential tick activity, which is reflected in tick samples from the vegetation or samples from animals, corresponds with tick–human interaction. Observations which may reflect the long term tick–human contact are available in Denmark. These observations are records of requests for information on I. ricinus forwarded to the Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory (DPIL). This article was based on the assumption that the request could be seen as a measure of tick–human interaction reflecting the tick densities in relative terms. The perceived tick densities given by the number of requests on I. ricinus divided by the total number of requests to DPIL was fairly stable from 1965 to 1985, while it doubled during the late 1980’s reaching a higher level in the beginning of the 1990’s. The perceived density was well explained by the variation in temperature, solar radiation (monthly measurement) and deer abundance (yearly assessments). The measure of deviation, i.e. the ratio between observed requests +1 and modelled requests +1, for the individual years varied between 0.91 and 1.20, with considerable within-year variation. A gradual change in periodicity of the residual might suggest gradually changing tick population dynamics. In conclusion, the perceived tick densities appear to be consistent with the current knowledge of tick ecology and tick-transmitted diseases.

This revised version was published online in May 2005 with a corrected cover date.