We report an attempt by an offshore island community to control the vector tick of Lyme disease by providing ivermectin-treated corn to an isolated herd of free-ranging white-tailed deer, 0docoileus virginianus Zimmerman. Medicated corn was supplied in troughs within the island village and from automatic feeders at remote sites during 5 consecutive fall and spring adult tick questing seasons. Acaricide consumption was monitored by assaying its presence in fresh deer pellets and its concentration in deer sera. Its effectiveness was evaluated by recording the number of adult ticks collected from the hides of deer, the number of females becoming sufficiently engorged to oviposit, and the success of subsequent oviposition and eclosion. Entomologic risk was monitored by collecting immature ticks from hosts and adult ticks from vegetation. Estimates based on a subsequent deer reduction program indicated that up to twice as many deer had been present during the project as originally presumed. For this and other reasons related to deer behavior, target levels of serum ivermectin were achieved in a minority of deer. Nevertheless, >90% control of female tick infestation, subsequent oviposition, and larval eclosion was obtained in those 8 of 16 sampled deer with serum ivermectin levels of ≥15 ng/ml. In addition, the ratio of females to males, the numbers of females engorging >10 mg body weight, and the numbers of those eventually hatching, were all significantly less among ticks from island deer in comparison with ticks from untreated deer. No consistent changes in the numbers of ticks found on immature-stage hosts or removed from vegetation were noted within 3 yr of the cessation of treatment.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1