Integrated Human Behavior and Tick Risk Maps to Prioritize Lyme Disease Interventions Using a 'One Health' Approach
27 Pages Posted: 25 May 2022
Lyme disease (LD) risk is emerging rapidly in Canada due to range expansion of its tick vectors, accelerated by climate change. The risk of contracting LD varies geographically due to variability in ecological characteristics that determine the hazard (the densities of infected host-seeking ticks) and vulnerability of the human population determined by their knowledge and adoption of preventive behaviors. Risk maps are commonly used to support public health decision-making on Lyme disease, but the ability of the human public to adopt preventive behaviors is rarely taken into account in their development, which represents a critical gap. The objective of this work was to improve LD risk mapping using an integrated social-behavioral and ecological approach to : i) compute enhanced integrated risk maps for prioritization of interventions and ii) develop a spatially-explicit assessment tool to examine the relative contribution of different risk factors.
The study was carried out in the Estrie region located in southern Québec. The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, infected with the agent of LD is widespread in Estrie and as a result, regional LD incidence is the highest in the province. LD knowledge and behaviors in the population were measured in a cross-sectional health survey conducted in 2018 reaching 10,790 respondents in Estrie. These data were used to create an index for the social-behavioral component of risk in 2018. Local Empirical Bayes estimator technique were used to better quantify the spatial variance in the levels of adoption of LD preventive activities. For the ecological risk analysis, a tick abundance model was developed by integrating data from ongoing long-term tick surveillance programs from 2007 up to 2018. Social-behavioral and ecological components of the risk measures were combined to create vulnerability index maps and, with the addition of human population densities, prioritization index maps. Map predictions were validated by testing the association of high-risk areas with the current spatial distribution of human cases of LD and reported tick exposure. Our results demonstrated that social-behavioral and ecological components of LD risk have markedly different distributions within Estrie. The occurrence of human LD cases or reported tick exposure in a municipality was positively associated with tick density and the prioritization risk index (p<0.001).
This research is a second step towards a more comprehensive integrated LD risk assessment approach, examining social-behavioral risk factors that interact with ecological risk factors to influence the management of emerging tick-borne diseases, an approach that could be applied more widely to vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.
Funding Information: This work was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The EPHS population survey was funded by the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS through a partnership with Université de Montréal (UdeM). Active field surveillance conducted from 2007 to 2018 was a joint effort between UdeM, the Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) and PHAC.
Declaration of Interests: None.
Ethics Approval Statement: All methods were carried out in accordance with Helsinki Declaration. Oral consent was obtained from all study participants because data collection was performed using phone interviews. The study protocol, as well as the proce‑ dure for obtaining oral consent, was approved by the Comité d’éthique de la recherche du CIUSS de l’Estrie – CHUS (project #2018-2612)
Keywords: Social-behavioral, ecological, risk maps, prevention, Lyme disease, One Health
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