• Acarological Risk of Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato Infections Across Space and Time in The Netherlands.

      Takken, Willem; van Vliet, Arnold J H; Verhulst, Niels O; Jacobs, Frans H H; Gassner, Fedor; Hartemink, Nienke; Mulder, Sara; Sprong, Hein (2017)
      A longitudinal investigation on tick populations and their Borrelia infections in the Netherlands was undertaken between 2006 and 2011 with the aim to assess spatial and temporal patterns of the acarological risk in forested sites across the country and to assess variations in Borrelia genospecies diversity. Ticks were collected monthly in 11 sites and nymphs were examined for Borrelia infections. Tick populations expressed strong seasonal variations, with consistent and significant differences in mean tick densities between sites. Borrelia infections were present in all study sites, with a site-specific mean prevalence per month ranging from 7% to 26%. Prevalence was location-dependent and was not associated with tick densities. Mean Borrelia prevalence was lowest in January (4%), gradually increasing to reach a maximum (24%) in August. Borrelia afzelii represented 70% of all infections, with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia valaisiana represented with 4%, 8%, and 10%, respectively. The density of infected nymphs and the proportional distribution of the four Borrelia genospecies, were significantly different between sites. The results show a consistent and significant spatial and temporal difference in acarological risk across the Netherlands.
    • Temporal-Spatial Variation in Questing Tick Activity in the Netherlands: The Effect of Climatic and Habitat Factors.

      Hartemink, Nienke; van Vliet, Arnold; Sprong, Hein; Jacobs, Frans; Garcia-Martí, Irene; Zurita-Milla, Raul; Takken, Willem (2019-02-27)
      Longitudinal studies are fundamental in the assessment of the effect of environmental factors on tick population dynamics. In this study, we use data from a 10-year study in 11 different locations in the Netherlands to gauge the effects of climatic and habitat factors on the temporal and spatial variation in questing tick activity. Marked differences in the total number of ticks were found between locations and between years. We investigated which climatic and habitat factors might explain this variation. No effects of climatic factors on the total number of ticks per year were observed, but we found a clear effect of temperature on the onset of tick activity. In addition, we found positive associations between (1) humus layer thickness and densities of all three stages, (2) moss and blackberry abundance and larval densities, and (3) blueberry abundance and densities of larva and nymphs. We conclude that climatic variables do not have a straightforward association with tick density in the Netherlands, but that winter and spring temperatures influence the onset of tick activity. Habitats with apparently similar vegetation types can still differ in tick population densities, indicating that local composition of vegetation and especially of wildlife is likely to contribute considerably to the spatial variation in tick densities.