skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Risk of tick-borne pathogen spillover into urban yards in New York City
Abstract Background The incidence of tick-borne disease has increased dramatically in recent decades, with urban areas increasingly recognized as high-risk environments for exposure to infected ticks. Green spaces may play a key role in facilitating the invasion of ticks, hosts and pathogens into residential areas, particularly where they connect residential yards with larger natural areas (e.g. parks). However, the factors mediating tick distribution across heterogeneous urban landscapes remain poorly characterized. Methods Using generalized linear models in a multimodel inference framework, we determined the residential yard- and local landscape-level features associated with the presence of three tick species of current and growing public health importance in residential yards across Staten Island, a borough of New York City, in the state of New York, USA. Results The amount and configuration of canopy cover immediately surrounding residential yards was found to strongly predict the presence of Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum , but not that of Haemaphysalis longicornis . Within yards, we found a protective effect of fencing against I. scapularis and A. americanum, but not against H. longicornis . For all species, the presence of log and brush piles strongly increased the odds of finding ticks in yards. Conclusions The results highlight a considerable risk of tick exposure in residential yards in Staten Island and identify both yard- and landscape-level features associated with their distribution. In particular, the significance of log and brush piles for all three species supports recommendations for yard management as a means of reducing contact with ticks. Graphical Abstract  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1924061 1755370
NSF-PAR ID:
10352081
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Parasites & Vectors
Volume:
15
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1756-3305
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background Public green spaces are important for human health, but they may expose visitors to ticks and tick-borne pathogens. We sought to understand, for the first time, visitors’ exposure risk and drivers of tick-preventative behavior in three popular parks on Staten Island, New York City, NY, USA, by integrating tick hazard and park visitors’ behaviors, risk perceptions and knowledge. Methods We conducted tick sampling in three parks, across three site types (open spaces, the edge of open spaces, and trails) and three within-park habitats (maintained grass, unmaintained herbaceous, and leaf litter) to estimate tick density during May-August 2019. Human behavior was assessed by observations of time spent and activity type in each site. We integrated the time spent in each location by park visitors and the tick density to estimate the probability of human-tick encounter. To assess visitors’ tick prevention behaviors, a knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) survey was administered. Results Three tick species ( Ixodes scapularis , Amblyomma americanum and Haemaphysalis longicornis) were collected. For all species, the density of nymphs was greatest in unmaintained herbaceous habitats and trails, however, the fewest people entered these hazardous locations. The KAP survey revealed that most respondents ( N  = 190) identified parks as the main location for tick exposure, but most believed they had minimal risk for tick encounter. Consequently, many visitors did not conduct tick checks. People were most likely to practice tick checks if they knew multiple prevention methods and perceived a high likelihood of tick encounter. Conclusions By integrating acarological indices with park visitor behaviors, we found a mismatch between areas with higher tick densities and areas more frequently used by park visitors. However, this exposure risk varied among demographic groups, the type of activities and parks, with a higher probability of human-tick encounters in trails compared to open spaces. Furthermore, we showed that people’s KAP did not change across parks even if parks represented different exposure risks. Our research is a first step towards identifying visitor risk, attitudes, and practices that could be targeted by optimized messaging strategies for tick bite prevention among park visitors. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Background

    We conducted a large-scale, passive regional survey of ticks associated with wildlife of the eastern United States. Our primary goals were to better assess the current geographical distribution of exoticHaemaphysalis longicornisand to identify potential wild mammalian and avian host species. However, this large-scale survey also provided valuable information regarding the distribution and host associations for many other important tick species that utilize wildlife as hosts.

    Methods

    Ticks were opportunistically collected by cooperating state and federal wildlife agencies. All ticks were placed in the supplied vials and host information was recorded, including host species, age, sex, examination date, location (at least county and state), and estimated tick burden. All ticks were identified to species using morphology, and suspectH. longicorniswere confirmed through molecular techniques.

    Results

    In total, 1940 hosts were examined from across 369 counties from 23 states in the eastern USA. From these submissions, 20,626 ticks were collected and identified belonging to 11 different species. Our passive surveillance efforts detected exoticH. longicornisfrom nine host species from eight states. Notably, some of the earliest detections ofH. longicornisin the USA were collected from wildlife through this passive surveillance network. In addition, numerous new county reports were generated forAmblyomma americanum,Amblyomma maculatum,Dermacentor albipictus,Dermacentor variabilis, andIxodes scapularis.

    Conclusions

    This study provided data on ticks collected from animals from 23 different states in the eastern USA between 2010 and 2021, with the primary goal of better characterizing the distribution and host associations of the exotic tickH. longicornis;however, new distribution data on tick species of veterinary or medical importance were also obtained. Collectively, our passive surveillance has detected numerous new county reports forH. longicornisas well asI. scapularis.Our study utilizing passive wildlife surveillance for ticks across the eastern USA is an effective method for surveying a diversity of wildlife host species, allowing us to better collect data on current tick distributions relevant to human and animal health.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    To better understand tick ecology in Virginia and the increasing Lyme disease incidence in western Virginia, a comparative phenological study was conducted in which monthly collections were performed at twelve sampling locations in southwestern Virginia (high Lyme disease incidence) and 18 equivalent sampling locations in southeastern Virginia (low Lyme disease incidence) for one year. In western Virginia, we also explored the effect of elevation on collection rates of Ixodes scapularis Say (Acari: Ixodidae) and Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae). In total, 35,438 ticks were collected (33,106 A. americanum; 2,052 I. scapularis; 134 Ixodes affinis Neumann [Acari: Ixodidae]; 84 Dermacentor variabilis [Say] [Acari: Ixodidae]; 49 Dermacentor albipictus [Packard] [Acari: Ixodidae]; 10 Haemaphysalis leporispalustris [Packard] [Acari: Ixodidae]; 2 Ixodes brunneus Koch [Acari: Ixodidae]; 1 Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann [Acari: Ixodidae]). Within southwestern Virginia, Ixodes scapularis collection rates were not influenced by elevation, unlike A. americanum which were collected more frequently at lower elevations (e.g., below 500 m). Notably, I. scapularis larvae and nymphs were commonly collected in southwestern Virginia (indicating that they were questing on or above the leaf litter) but not in southeastern Virginia. Questing on or above the leaf litter is primarily associated with northern populations of I. scapularis. These findings may support the hypothesis that I. scapularis from the northeastern United States are migrating into western Virginia and contributing to the higher incidence of Lyme disease in this region. This comparative phenological study underscores the value of these types of studies and the need for additional research to further understand the rapidly changing tick-borne disease dynamics in Virginia.

     
    more » « less
  4. Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood-scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife-certified and water conservation) and two lawn-dominated yard types (high- and low-fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood-scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood-scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated with impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high-fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife-certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife-friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood‐scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife‐certified and water conservation) and two lawn‐dominated yard types (high‐ and low‐fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood‐scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood‐scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated with impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high‐fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife‐certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife‐friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes.

     
    more » « less