Black-legged ticks, which transmit pathogens that are harmful to humans, including the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, have a variety of options for the three blood meals they consume in their lifetime. According to a recent article in FiveThirtyEight, these include at least 41 species of mammals, from chipmunks to black bears, plus 57 species of birds and 14 species of lizards. In adulthood, they will hop onto at least 27 species of mammals and one type of lizard.
Ticks aren’t born with the pathogens that cause the main tick-borne diseases in humans. They get them from feeding on animals that act as reservoirs of bacteria and parasites. According to the article, the white-footed mouse is the best host that harbors Lyme disease.
The role of the white-footed mouse is so important in spreading tick-borne diseases that Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Medical Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory and Co-Director of Vector-Borne Diseases Laboratory Services at Mayo Clinic, always works it into the discussion.
“Interventions to decrease the mice [population] could potentially prevent Lyme disease” and other tick-borne diseases too, says Dr. Pritt, whose team discovered a new bacterial species that causes Lyme disease while leading research on parasites and vector-borne diseases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Read the full article to learn more.