In 1993, four residents of a retirement community in middle Tennessee were hospitalized with symptoms of ehrlichiosis causing community managers to implement mitigation methods to reduce tick numbers. For the past four years, managers have utilized 4-poster acaricide applicators that aim to reduce disease risk to residents by killing ticks that feed on deer. To determine the efficacy of this technique, we assessed Amblyomma americanum abundance in the vicinity of the devices by dragging 400 m vegetation transects once per month while ticks were active. In 2009, adult tick activity peaked in May, nymphal tick activity peaked in June, and larval activity peaked in September. Close to 4-poster devices, larval, nymphal, and adult tick abundances were reduced by 91%, 68%, and 49%, respectively (larval and nymphal p<0.001, adult p=0.005), relative to nearby untreated areas. No significant reduction in nymphal or adult A. americanum ticks was evident >300 m from 4-poster devices, however a ∼90% reduction in larvae was observed to our sampling limit (400 m). At the low density at which these devices are currently being used (average distance between devices = 6.6 km), we conclude that they will have little large-scale effect on the health risk posed by ticks in this community.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2