Ecological interactions driving population dynamics of two tick-borne pathogens, Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti

Danielle M. Tufts, Ben Adams, Maria A. Diuk-Wasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)

Abstract

Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) and Babesia microti (Bm) are vector-borne zoonotic pathogens commonly found co-circulating in Ixodes scapularis and Peromyscus leucopus populations. The restricted distribution and lower prevalence of Bm has been historically attributed to lower host-to-tick transmission efficiency and limited host ranges. We hypothesized that prevalence patterns are driven by coinfection dynamics and vertical transmission. We use a multi-year, multiple location, longitudinal dataset with mathematical modelling to elucidate coinfection dynamics between Bb and Bm in natural populations of P. leucopus, the most competent reservoir host for both pathogens in the eastern USA. Our analyses indicate that, in the absence of vertical transmission, Bb is viable at lower tick numbers than Bm. However, with vertical transmission, Bm is viable at lower tick numbers than Bb. Vertical transmission has a particularly strong effect on Bm prevalence early in the active season while coinfection has an increasing role during the nymphal peak. Our analyses indicate that coinfection processes, such as facilitation of Bm infection by Bb, have relatively little influence on the persistence of either parasite. We suggest future work examines the sensitivity of Bm vertical transmission and other key processes to local environmental conditions to inform surveillance and control of tick-borne pathogens.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20230642
Number of pages1
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume290
Issue number2001
Early online date28 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Data accessibility
Code is available in the supplemental materials document and on GitHub (see https://github.com/cowparsley/borrelia-babesia-eco-epi).
Data files are available from Dryad [89].
Additional information is provided in electronic supplementary material [90].

Funding
Funding was provided by the National Institute of Health award R03 AI-076856-01 (M.A.D.-W.), the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health award R01 GM105246-01 (M.A.D.-W.) and the National Science Foundation award IOS 1755370 (M.A.D.-W., D.M.T., B.A.).

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by the National Institute of Health award R03 AI-076856-01 (M.A.D.-W.), the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health award R01 GM105246-01 (M.A.D.-W.) and the National Science Foundation award IOS 1755370 (M.A.D.-W., D.M.T., B.A.).

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by the National Institute of Health award R03 AI-076856-01 (M.A.D.-W.), the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, National Institutes of Health award R01 GM105246-01 (M.A.D.-W.) and the National Science Foundation award IOS 1755370 (M.A.D.-W., D.M.T., B.A.). Acknowledgements

Keywords

  • blacklegged tick
  • eco-epidemiological model
  • mechanistic model
  • reservoir host
  • vertical transmission
  • white-footed mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology

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