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During the past 40 years, Lyme disease has emerged as the most widely reported vector-borne illness in the U.S., with the majority of cases occurring in the Northeastern United States. The pathogenic bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi relies on the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, the primary enzootic vector responsible for the passage of the bacteria to humans. Behavioral risk factors for tick-borne diseases include those that increase the likelihood of being bit by a tick, including contact with vegetation, exposed skin, and spending time outdoors, all of which can occur within one’s residential yard. Risk factors within the assumed safety net of the home have not been extensively studied, nor has the effects of pet ownership, nor the presence of wild animals within the yard. During 2019-2020 we conducted 130 surveys of households in Broome and Chenango Counties, and performed tick drags in the rear yards of 102 of these homes. Risk factors included household members’ time spent in yard, type of outside activity, use of tick control methods, seasonal activity, and pet ownership, as well as specifics of the yard, including amount and type of vegetation and presence of wild animals. The household’s history of tick bites and infection were also recorded. A risk analysis is currently underway to determine which factors contribute to a higher risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses. This study is part of our ongoing effort to understand the threat of tick-borne diseases in peri-urban and urban settings within the Southern Tier of New York.



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Behavioral and Environmental Residential Risk Factors for Lyme Disease in the Southern Tier of New York