disease ecology, Lyme disease, West Nile virus
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Richard Ostfeld studies the ecology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases such as Powassan viral encephalitis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. By understanding the factors that influence tick abundance and infection, Ostfeld and his team can predict when and where exposure to tick-borne diseases will be high.
Ostfeld and his Bard College collaborator Felicia Keesing direct The Tick Project – a five-year study that is testing two tick control methods in residential neighborhoods throughout Dutchess County, NY. The goal: devise an effective approach to controlling tick-borne diseases that could be adopted by local municipalities, community groups, and neighborhoods. Changing climatic conditions can affect tick survival and reproduction.
Ostfeld studies the effects of environmental variables on tick survival, behavior, and population performance to predict where Lyme disease will spread as climate warms. Ostfeld’s team is also investigating the communities of viruses that live within blacklegged ticks and an important host, the white-footed mouse. They are determining what viruses ticks and mice carry, the mechanisms by which these viruses are transmitted, and whether they could cause illness in humans.
Ostfeld has studied the relationship between land use and infectious disease for over 20 years. Development of forested areas can degrade or fragment wildlife habitat, causing species diversity to decline. Predators like foxes and owls, which feed on mice, are sensitive to fragmentation. The loss of predators can lead to more mice and fewer non-mouse hosts for ticks, increasing the abundance of Lyme-infected ticks and disease risk for humans.
A New York state Senator was in Millbrook today to present a check to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in support of a project aimed at Lyme disease prevention.
Dr. Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist and national expert on Lyme disease ecology discusses why ticks and tick-borne disease are on the rise and ways that ecology can inform tick management.
Lyme and other tick-borne diseases have impacted the lives of so many in the Hudson Valley, New York. Learn the latest news on prevention from a panel of experts.
Two New York state senators released a report last week aimed at combating the spread of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld commends the report, but offers suggestions for improving it.
Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System
Oxford University Press, 2011
Infectious Disease Ecology: Effects of Ecosystems on Disease and of Disease on Ecosystems
Princeton University Press, 2008