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General framework for comparative quantitative studies on transmission of tick-borne diseases using Lyme borreliosis in Europe as an example

Randolph, S.E., Craine, N.G.
Journal of medical entomology 1995 v.32 no.6 pp. 765-777
Lyme disease, hosts, models, Ixodes, Borrelia burgdorferi, transovarial transmission, seasonal variation, Europe
Models of tick-borne diseases must take account of the particular biological features of ticks that contrast with those of insect vectors. A general framework is proposed that identifies the parameters of the transmission dynamics of tick-borne diseases to allow a quantitative assessment of the relative contributions of different host species and alternative transmission routes to the basic reproductive number, Ro, of such diseases. Taking the particular case of the transmission of the Lyme borreliosis spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi, by Ixodes ticks in Europe, and using the best, albeit still inadequate, estimates of the parameter values and a set of empirical data from Thetford Forest, England, we show that squirrels and the transovarial transmission route make quantitatively very significant contributions to Ro. This approach highlights the urgent need for more robust estimates of certain crucial parameter values, particularly the coefficients of transmission between ticks and vertebrates, before we can progress to full models that incorporate seasonality and heterogeneity among host populations for the natural dynamics of transmission of borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases.