Friday, October 12, 2007

RESEARCH NEWS: Suburban Deer Reduction Alone Does Not Affect Lyme Disease Incidence

The short version.

Researchers monitored the abundance of deer ticks and and the Lyme disease incidence rate after the reduction of of white-tailed deer in a suburban residential area. They wanted to determine whether there was a measurable decrease in the abundance of ticks due to deer removal and whether the reduction in ticks resulted in a reduction in the incidence of Lyme Disease within the human population.

After three seasons, the estimated deer population was reduced by 46.7%, from the 2002 postfawning estimate of 2,899 deer (46 deer per km^2) to a 2005 estimate of 1,540 deer (24 deer per km^2).

There was no effect of the deer culling program on numbers of deer ticks in the culling areas, and the overall numbers of host-seeking ticks in the culling areas seemed to increase in the second year of the program.

The Lyme disease incidence rate showed no clear trend among years, and it did not seem to change with declining deer density.

The researcher conclude that deer reduction is unlikely to be a primary means of tick control by itself. However, in concert with other tick control interventions, deer culling efforts could be one prong of a strategy to reduce tick numbers and Lyme Disease incidence.

source: R. Jordan et al. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY 44 (5): 752-757 SEP 2007