The Impact of Host Abundance on the Epidemiology of Tick-Borne Infection

Xander O'Neill, Andy White, Christian Gortázar, Francisco Ruiz-Fons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Tick-borne diseases are an increasing global public health concern due to an expanding geographical range and increase in abundance of tick-borne infectious agents. A potential explanation for the rising impact of tick-borne diseases is an increase in tick abundance which may be linked to an increase in density of the hosts on which they feed. In this study, we develop a model framework to understand the link between host density, tick demography and tick-borne pathogen epidemiology. Our model links the development of specific tick stages to the specific hosts on which they feed. We show that host community composition and host density have an impact on tick population dynamics and that this has a consequent impact on host and tick epidemiological dynamics. A key result is that our model framework can exhibit variation in host infection prevalence for a fixed density of one host type due to changes in density of other host types that support different tick life stages. Our findings suggest that host community composition may play a crucial role in explaining the variation in prevalence of tick-borne infections in hosts observed in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number4
Early online date9 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Mathematical modelling
  • Tick-borne pathogens
  • Tick-host models
  • Zoonotic spillover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Immunology


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