Fewer deer may mean less Lyme disease

Reducing deer populations may reduce risk of Lyme disease
The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), the vector for Lyme disease, parasitizes the white-tailed deer, which spreads the tick and increases its range. Credit: CDC, public domain

Since white-tailed deer serve as the primary host for the adult blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)—the vector for Lyme disease—scientists have wondered whether reducing the number of deer in a given area would also mean fewer cases of Lyme disease. Now, after a 13-year study was conducted, researchers in Connecticut have found that reduced deer populations can indeed lead to a reduction in Lyme disease cases. The results of their study are published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

The researchers surveyed 90–98% of all permanent residents in a Connecticut community from 1995 to 2008 to document their exposure to tick-related diseases and the frequency and abundance of observations. After hunts were initiated, the number and frequency of deer observations in the community were greatly reduced, as were resident-reported cases of Lyme disease.

The number of resident-reported cases of Lyme disease per 100 households was strongly correlated to deer density in the community, they found. Reducing deer density to 5.1 deer per square kilometer resulted in a 76% reduction in tick abundance, a 70% reduction in the entomological risk index, and an 80% reduction in resident-reported cases of Lyme disease.

"We found that reducing deer density by ≥87% resulted in a significant reduction in tick abundance, nearly a 50% reduction in tick infection rate, and an 80% reduction in resident-reported human cases of Lyme disease," the authors wrote. "Our study demonstrated that can be manipulated to reduce human interactions with deer, infected nymphal ticks, and human risk of contracting Lyme disease."

"Reducing deer populations to levels that reduce the potential for ticks to successfully breed should be an important component of any long-term strategy seeking to reduce the risk of people contracting Lyme disease," they concluded. "Additionally, good hunter access to deer habitat and a wide variety of management tools (bait, unlimited tags, incentive programs) are important components of a successful deer reduction strategy."

More information: Journal of Medical Entomology, esa.publisher.ingentaconnect.c… 51/00000004/art00007

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wlkthlne
not rated yet Jul 12, 2014
STUPID is what STUPID does and in this case NOTHING. Control of Deer has NOTHING to do with Lyme Disease. Are you gonna control the mice, birds, chipmunks, and so on and on and on? If these dumb research or article people would wake up, they would know we NEED these animals to control and Kill lyme disease(plus Co-infections) Ticks! WE NEED DEER ALIVE! Yes, for the TICKRID programs that each town can do, and cheap cheap and it kills ticks and educates the public at the same time!!! DUH! Yes, we need mice alive to help us KILL TICKS....it's all so simple...and it's been known and out there for as long as it took to research this dumb kill the deer to rid ticks study...

Keep deer and mice ALIVE....use them to help us with the TICKRID program...it's safe for humans, deer, ticks...It's a win win win! It's cheap! It's easy! It's effective! Millions will help towns do it for FREE!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!!!????