The ecology of ticks and epidemiology of tick-borne viral diseases

Agustín Estrada-Peña, José de la Fuente
Antiviral Research 2014, 108: 104-28
A number of tick-borne diseases of humans have increased in incidence and geographic range over the past few decades, and there is concern that they will pose an even greater threat to public health in future. Although global warming is often cited as the underlying mechanism favoring the spread of tick-borne diseases, climate is just one of many factors that determine which tick species are found in a given geographic region, their population density, the likelihood that they will be infected with microbes pathogenic for humans and the frequency of tick-human contact. This article provides basic information needed for microbiologists to understand the many factors that affect the geographic range and population density of ticks and the risk of human exposure to infected ticks. It first briefly summarizes the life cycle and basic ecology of ticks and how ticks and vertebrate hosts interact, then reviews current understanding of the role of climate, sociodemographic factors, agricultural development and changes in human behavior that affect the incidence of tick-borne diseases. These concepts are then illustrated in specific discussions of tick-borne encephalitis and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

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