Lyme Disease and Babesiosis: Acaricide Focused on Potentially Infected Ticks

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  • Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Permethrin-treated cotton, intended as rodent nesting material, was distributed in wooded sites in which the agents of Lyme disease and babesiosis were enzootic, in order to kill immature Ixodes dammini, the ticks that transmit these human pathogens. Such ticks feed most abundantly on white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), apparently the main reservoir hosts of these agents, and tend to concentrate in mouse burrows. Mice captured after permethrin-treated cotton was distributed, were infested by a tenth as many ticks as were those captured in adjacent nontreated sites, a difference that continued throughout the 4-month period of observation. On average, 72% of all mice captured in treated sites were free of ticks, while virtually all mice captured in nontreated sites were infested. Voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus), however, were tick-infested, regardless of site of capture. Laboratory-reated I. dammini failed to attach to mice captured in treated sites, and most such exposed ticks died. Distribution of permethrin-treated cotton appears to be a means for preventing transmission of the pathogens that cause human babesiosis and Lyme disease.