Date of Submission

Fall 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Felicia Keesing

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This study applies the concept that disease dynamics involve multiple interacting factors and that a host organism’s immune response to simultaneous infections involves a system of tradeoffs. Past research has shown that chronic infection with intestinal worms has a negative impact on a host’s immune response to additional infection. The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is an excellent reservoir for the agents of Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, and Babesiosis. P. leucopus passes microparasites to ticks at high rates. Thus, pathogen dynamics within this host are of major interest in the effort to prevent human infection. Here, we investigate the potential impact of intestinal parasites on the transmission of microparasites to ticks. We hypothesized that treating wild P. leucopus for intestinal worms would reduce the rate at which they transmit blood-borne human pathogens to ticks. I treated mice with a commercially available de-worming drug and measured their ability to transmit pathogens to ticks. I found that infected hosts treated with de-wormer pass Anaplasma phagocytophilium at a significantly lower rate than their untreated counterparts. However, de-wormer had no significant impact on a host’s reservoir competence for Borrelia burgdorferi or Babesia microti.

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