The wild life of tick-borne pathogens

The number of ticks and the number of people diagnosed with tick-borne diseases are on the rise. However, we know relatively little about the ecology of the tick species that transmits most diseases in the Netherlands (the sheep tick – Ixodes ricinus) and the different tick-borne pathogens that the sheep tick transmits. For my PhD thesis, I studied the influence of different vertebrate host species on the dynamics of sheep tick populations and seven different bacterial pathogens that are transmitted by the sheep tick. I found that small mammals, thrushes and deer are the most important hosts for the sheep tick. Small rodents and thrushes are also the most important species transmitting tick-borne pathogens to the sheep tick. The behaviour and density of these species are the main determinants of tick-borne disease risk as measured by the number of infected ticks in an area.

My Phd thesis can be downloaded here: