Predicting Ixodes scapularis Abundance on White-Tailed Deer Using Geographic Information Systems

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  • Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Maryland, Towson State University, Baltimore, Maryland

We collected 1,410 Ixodes scapularis from 139 white-tailed deer in Kent County, Maryland during the 1990 hunting season. A geographic information system was used to extract 41 environmental variables in the areas surrounding the collection sites of the deer. Stepwise linear regression was used to evaluate the association between the abundance of ticks on deer and the environmental data. A significant statistical association was observed between the abundance of I. scapularis and seven environmental variables (R = 0.69). Tick abundance was negatively correlated with urban land use patterns, wetlands, the amount of privately owned land, soils that tended to be saturated with water, and one drainage system. Tick abundance was positively correlated with well-drained, sandy soils having low water tables. These results indicate that geographically referenced environmental data may be useful in anticipating the risk of exposure to vectors over large areas.

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