Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 536973
Title Low probability of a dilution effect for Lyme borreliosis in Belgian forests
Author(s) Ruyts, Sanne C.; Landuyt, Dries; Ampoorter, Evy; Heylen, Dieter; Ehrmann, Steffen; Coipan, Elena C.; Matthysen, Erik; Sprong, Hein; Verheyen, Kris
Source Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 9 (2018)5. - ISSN 1877-959X - p. 1143 - 1152.
Department(s) PPO/PRI Biointeractions and Plant Health
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Keyword(s) Bayesian belief network - Biodiversity - Borrelia afzelii - Ixodes ricinus - Tick - Vector-borne disease
Abstract An increasing number of studies have investigated the consequences of biodiversity loss for the occurrence of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, the most common tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere. As host species differ in their ability to transmit the Lyme borreliosis bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. to ticks, increased host diversity can decrease disease prevalence by increasing the proportion of dilution hosts, host species that transmit pathogens less efficiently. Previous research shows that Lyme borreliosis risk differs between forest types and suggests that a higher diversity of host species might dilute the contribution of small rodents to infect ticks with B. afzelii, a common Borrelia genospecies. However, empirical evidence for a dilution effect in Europe is largely lacking. We tested the dilution effect hypothesis in 19 Belgian forest stands of different forest types along a diversity gradient. We used empirical data and a Bayesian belief network to investigate the impact of the proportion of dilution hosts on the density of ticks infected with B. afzelii, and identified the key drivers determining the density of infected ticks, which is a measure of human infection risk. Densities of ticks and B. afzelii infection prevalence differed between forest types, but the model indicated that the density of infected ticks is hardly affected by dilution. The most important variables explaining variability in disease risk were related to the density of ticks. Combining empirical data with a model-based approach supported decision making to reduce tick-borne disease risk. We found a low probability of a dilution effect for Lyme borreliosis in a north-western European context. We emphasize that under these circumstances, Lyme borreliosis prevention should rather aim at reducing tick-human contact rate instead of attempting to increase the proportion of dilution hosts.
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