Avian Host Preference of Lyme Disease Vector Ixodes Scapularis in Southwestern Michigan
Willett, Brooklyn G.
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Lyme disease is a human health hazard that continues to spread. As its range expands, it is important to understand how the vector of transmission reaches new areas, as well as how it is sustained there. Ixodes scapularis, also known as the black legged tick, is known to be a vector of lyme disease transmission in the United States, and it has been speculated that one of the most mobile hosts of this parasite are birds. Due to their ability to fly across long distances, they are capable of moving themselves as well their respective parasites across wide geographic ranges while sustaining them. This study used mist netting to survey Ixodes scapularis prevalence on a variety of birds in order to better understand host preference in southwest Michigan. The field study took place in two locations; Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, MI and Pitsfield Banding Station in Vicksburg, MI. It was concluded that there was higher Ixodes scapularis prevalence in ground-foraging species, as well as hatch year birds who spend much of their time on the ground. These results can inform future studies about Ixodes scapularis host preference, which is important to understanding how vector populations are sustained and how the disease gets transmitted to humans in a new area.