Stemming the Rising Tide of Human-Biting Ticks and Tickborne Diseases, United States
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Ticks and tickborne diseases are increasingly problematic. There have been positive developments that should result in improved strategies and better tools to suppress ticks, reduce human tick bites, and roll back tickborne diseases. However, we equally need to address the question of who is responsible for implementing the solutions. The current model of individual responsibility for tick control evolved from a scenario in the 1990s focusing strongly on exposure to blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease spirochetes in peridomestic settings of the northeastern United States. Today, the threat posed by human-biting ticks is more widespread across the eastern United States, increasingly complex (multiple tick species and >10 notable tickborne pathogens), and, across tick species, more spatially diffuse (including backyards, neighborhood green spaces, and public recreation areas). To mitigate tick-associated negative societal effects, we must consider shifting the responsibility for tick control to include both individual persons and professionally staffed tick-management programs.
Keywords: United States; bacteria; control programs; disease control; human-biting ticks; parasites; tick control; tickborne diseases; ticks; vector-borne diseases; vector-borne infections; zoonoses.