Controlling tick-borne diseases through domestic animal management: a theoretical approach

Porter, R., Norman, R. and Gilbert, L. (2011) Controlling tick-borne diseases through domestic animal management: a theoretical approach. Theoretical Ecology, 4(3), pp. 321-339. (doi: 10.1007/s12080-010-0080-2)

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Abstract

Vector-borne diseases are of global importance to human and animal health. Empirical trials of effective methods to control vectors and their pathogens can be difficult for practical, financial and ethical reasons. Here, therefore, we use a mathematical model to predict the effectiveness of a vector-borne disease control method. As a case study, we use the tick-louping ill virus system, where sheep are treated with acaricide in an attempt to control ticks and disease in red grouse , an economically important game bird. We ran the model under different scenarios of sheep flock sizes, alternative host (deer) densities, acaricide efficacies and tick burdens. The model predicted that, with very low deer densities, using sheep as tick mops can reduce the tick population and virus prevalence. However, treatment is ineffective above a certain threshold deer density, dependent on the comparative tick burden on sheep and deer. The model also predicted that high efficacy levels of acaricide must be maintained for effective tick control. This study suggests that benignly managing one host species to protect another host species from a vector and pathogen can be effective under certain conditions. It also highlights the importance of understanding the ecological complexity of a system, in order to target control methods only under certain circumstances for maximum effectiveness.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gilbert, Dr Lucy
Authors: Porter, R., Norman, R., and Gilbert, L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Theoretical Ecology
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1874-1738
ISSN (Online):1874-1746
Published Online:20 May 2010

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