In the United States, tickborne diseases occur focally. Missouri represents a major focus of several tickborne diseases that includes spotted fever rickettsiosis, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis. Our study sought to determine the potential risk of human exposure to human-biting vector ticks in this area. We collected ticks in 79 sites in southern Missouri during June 7-10, 2009, which yielded 1,047 adult and 3,585 nymphal Amblyomma americanum, 5 adult Amblyomma maculatum, 19 adult Dermacentor variabilis, and 5 nymphal Ixodes brunneus. Logistic regression analysis showed that areas posing an elevated risk of exposure to A. americanum nymphs or adults were more likely to be classified as forested than grassland, and the probability of being classified as elevated risk increased with increasing relative humidity during the month of June (30-year average). Overall accuracy of each of the two models was greater than 70% and showed that 20% and 30% of the state were classified as elevated risk for human exposure to nymphs and adults, respectively. We also found a significant positive association between heightened acarologic risk and counties reporting tularemia cases. Our study provides an updated distribution map for A. americanum in Missouri and suggests a wide-spread risk of human exposure to A. americanum and their associated pathogens in this region. Copyright ?? 2011 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Additional publication details
An acarologic survey and Amblyomma americanum distribution map with implications for tularemia risk in Missouri