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


Porter R, Norman R & Gilbert L (2011) Controlling tick-borne diseases through domestic animal management: a theoretical approach. Theoretical Ecology, 4 (3), pp. 321-339.

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.

Louping ill virus; Mathematical model; Sheep tick mop; Tick borne; Animal management; Tick-borne diseases; Tick control; Domestic animals

Theoretical Ecology: Volume 4, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherSpringer Verlag

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