Effects of tick population dynamics and host densities on the persistence of tick-borne infections

Roberto Rosà, Andrea Pugliese
Mathematical Biosciences 2007, 208 (1): 216-40
The transmission and the persistence of tick-borne infections are strongly influenced by the densities and the structure of host populations. By extending previous models and analysis, in this paper we analyse how the persistence of ticks and pathogens, is affected by the dynamics of tick populations, and by their host densities. The effect of host densities on infection persistence is explored through the analysis and simulation of a series of models that include different assumptions on tick-host dynamics and consider different routes of infection transmission. Ticks are assumed to feed on two types of host species which vary in their reservoir competence. Too low densities of competent hosts (i.e., hosts where transmission can occur) do not sustain the infection cycle, while too high densities of incompetent hosts may dilute the competent hosts so much to make infection persistence impossible. A dilution effect may occur also for competent hosts as a consequence of reduced tick to host ratio; this is possible only if the regulation of tick populations is such that tick density does not increase linearly with host densities.

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