Howard S Ginsberg

University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, United States

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Publications (42)90.9 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Several investigators have reported genetic differences between northern and southern populations of Ixodes scapularis in North America, as well as differences in patterns of disease transmission. Ecological and behavioral correlates of these genetic differences, which might have implications for disease transmission, have not been reported. We compared survival of northern with that of southern genotypes under both northern and southern environmental conditions in laboratory trials.
    Parasites & Vectors 08/2014; 7(1):394. · 3.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract The Eastern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus, is widely distributed in eastern and central North America, ranging through areas with high levels of Lyme disease, as well as areas where Lyme disease is rare or absent. We studied the potential role of S. undulatus in transmission dynamics of Lyme spirochetes by sampling ticks from a variety of natural hosts at field sites in central New Jersey, and by testing the reservoir competence of S. undulatus for Borrelia burgdorferi in the laboratory. The infestation rate of ticks on fence lizards was extremely low (proportion infested = 0.087, n = 23) compared to that on white footed mice and other small mammals (proportion infested = 0.53, n = 140). Of 159 nymphs that had fed as larvae on lizards that had previously been exposed to infected nymphs, none was infected with B. burgdorferi, compared with 79.9% of 209 nymphs that had fed as larvae on infected control mice. Simulations suggest that changes in the numbers of fence lizards in a natural habitat would have little effect on the infection rate of nymphal ticks with Lyme spirochetes. We conclude that in central New Jersey S. undulatus plays a minimal role in the enzootic transmission cycle of Lyme spirochetes.
    The Journal of parasitology. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in north temperate regions worldwide, affecting an estimated 300,000 people annually in the United States alone. The incidence of LB is correlated with human exposure to its vector, the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). To date, attempts to model tick encounter risk based on environmental parameters have been equivocal. Previous studies have not considered (1) the differences between relative humidity (RH) in leaf litter and at weather stations, (2) the RH threshold that affects nymphal blacklegged tick survival, and (3) the time required below the threshold to induce mortality. We clarify the association between environmental moisture and tick survival by presenting a significant relationship between the total number of tick adverse moisture events (TAMEs - calculated as microclimatic periods below a RH threshold) and tick abundance each year. We used a 14-year continuous statewide tick surveillance database and corresponding weather data from Rhode Island (RI), USA, to assess the effects of TAMEs on nymphal populations of I. scapularis. These TAMEs were defined as extended periods of time (>8 h below 82% RH in leaf litter). We fit a sigmoid curve comparing weather station data to those collected by loggers placed in tick habitats to estimate RH experienced by nymphal ticks, and compiled the number of historical TAMEs during the 14-year record. The total number of TAMEs in June of each year was negatively related to total seasonal nymphal tick densities, suggesting that sub-threshold humidity episodes >8 h in duration naturally lowered nymphal blacklegged tick abundance. Furthermore, TAMEs were positively related to the ratio of tick abundance early in the season when compared to late season, suggesting that lower than average tick abundance for a given year resulted from tick mortality and not from other factors. Our results clarify the mechanism by which environmental moisture affects blacklegged tick populations, and offers the possibility to more accurately predict tick abundance and human LB incidence. We describe a method to forecast LB risk in endemic regions and identify the predictive role of microclimatic moisture conditions on tick encounter risk.
    Parasites & Vectors 04/2014; 7(1):181. · 3.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Laboratory studies have shown clear relationships between relative humidity (RH) and the activity and survival of Ixodes scapularis Say (blacklegged tick). However, field studies have produced conflicting results. We examined this relationship using weekly tick count totals and hourly RH observations at three field sites, stratified by latitude, within the state of Rhode Island. Records of nymphal tick abundance were compared with several RH-related variables (e.g., RH at time of sampling and mean weekly daytime RH). In total, 825 nymphs were sampled in 2009, a year of greater precipitation, with a weighted average leaf litter RH recorded at time of sampling of 85.22%. Alternatively, 649 nymphs were collected in 2010, a year of relatively low precipitation, and a weighted average RH recorded at time of sampling was 75.51%. Negative binomial regression analysis of tick count totals identified cumulative hours P = 0.0037; 2010: P P = 0.0016) in 2010. These results suggest a lag effect between moisture availability and patterns of tick activity and abundance. Differences in the relative importance of each RH variable between years may have been due to abnormally wet summer conditions in 2009.
    Journal of Medical Entomology 01/2014; 51. · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nymphal stage of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae), is responsible for most transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, to humans in North America. From 2010 to fall of 2012, we compared two commonly used techniques, flagging and dragging, as sampling methods for nymphal I. scapularis at three sites, each with multiple sampling arrays (grids), in the eastern and central United States. Flagging and dragging collected comparable numbers of nymphs, with no consistent differences between methods. Dragging collected more nymphs than flagging in some samples, but these differences were not consistent among sites or sampling years. The ratio of nymphs collected by flagging vs dragging was not significantly related to shrub density, so habitat type did not have a strong effect on the relative efficacy of these methods. Therefore, although dragging collected more ticks in a few cases, the numbers collected by each method were so variable that neither technique had a clear advantage for sampling nymphal I. scapularis.
    Journal of Vector Ecology 06/2013; 38(1):163-167. · 1.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV) are both primarily bird viruses, which can be transmitted by several mosquito species. Differences in larval habitats, flight, and biting patterns of the primary vector species result in substantial differences in epidemiology, with WNV more common, primarily occurring in urban areas, and EEEV relatively rare, typically occurring near swamp habitats. The complex transmission ecology of these viruses complicates prediction of disease outbreaks. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Department of Health (DoH) provide prevention assistance to towns and maintain a mosquito surveillance program to identify potential disease risk. Responses to potential outbreaks follow a protocol based on surveillance results, assessment of human risk, and technical consultation.
    Rhode Island medical journal 01/2013; 96(7):33-35.
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    ABSTRACT: Invasive spiders pose potential threats to native spiders. In 2002, the European spider Linyphia triangularis (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae: Linyphiidae) was discovered in all but one county in Maine. At Acadia National Park, we conducted a 4-year study of L. triangularis and three native linyphiid species of a similar size (Frontinella communis (Hentz, 1850), Pityohyphantes subarcticus Chamberlin and Ivie, 1943, and Neriene radiata (Walckenaer, 1842)). Using line-transect surveys, we measured population densities in coastal and forest habitat. The density of L. triangularis varied across years but was always significantly higher on the coast than in the forest. In contrast, only one native species was present on the coast and at very low numbers. Coastal L. triangularis were larger and in better condition than those in the forest, and numbers and biomass of insect prey were also higher on the coast. In 2 years, we also conducted transects at a second coastal location in Maine where the invader was at low density. At that site, native densities were substantially higher than at either Acadia site. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that L. triangularis is reducing populations of native spiders. Companion studies suggest that L. triangularis negatively impacts natives by usurping both web sites and webs.
    Canadian Journal of Zoology 07/2011; 89(8):668-677. · 1.50 Impact Factor
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    Mari Butler, Howard S Ginsberg, Roger A Lebrun, Alan Gettman
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    ABSTRACT: The mosquito larvicide methoprene is a juvenile growth hormone mimic that is widely used to control mosquito larvae in stormwater catch basins. This study addresses two concerns pertaining to methoprene's use for mosquito control. First, measurements of methoprene concentrations were made from water in catch basins that had been treated with methoprene and from an adjoining salt pond near where the treated catch basins emptied. The concentrations of methoprene in catch basins and at drainage outlets after application at the rates currently used for mosquito control in southern Rhode Island were 0.5 ppb and lower, orders of magnitude below what has been determined as detrimental to organisms other than mosquitoes. Second, the effects of methoprene on the communities that live in catch basins were evaluated both in simulated catch basins in the laboratory and in actual catch basins in the field. We found no evidence of declines in abundances of any taxa attributable to the application. Furthermore, we found no consistent changes in community-level parameters (e.g., taxonomic richness, and dominance-diversity relationships) related to methoprene application in either field or laboratory trials.
    Journal of Vector Ecology 12/2010; 35(2):372-84. · 1.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acquisition of ticks by bird hosts is a central process in the transmission cycles of many tick-borne zoonoses, but tick recruitment by birds has received little direct study. We documented acquisition of Ixodes scapularis Say on birds at Fire Island, NY, by removing ticks from mist-netted birds, and recording the number of ticks on birds recaptured within 4 d of release. Eight bird species acquired at least 0.8 ticks bird(-1) day(-1) during the seasonal peak for at least one age class of I. scapularis. Gray Catbirds, Eastern Towhees, Common Yellowthroats, and Northern Waterthrushes collectively accounted for 83% of all tick acquisitions; and six individuals apportioned among Black-billed Cuckoo, Gray Catbird, Eastern Towhee, and Common Yellowthroat were simultaneously infested with both larvae and nymphs. Bird species with the highest acquisition rates were generally ground foragers, whereas birds that did not acquire ticks in our samples generally foraged above the ground. Tick acquisition by birds did not differ between deciduous and coniferous forests. Among the 15 bird species with the highest recruitment rates, acquisition of nymphs was not correlated with acquisition of larvae. Tick acquisition rates by individual bird species were not correlated with the reservoir competence of those species for Lyme borreliae. However, birds with high tick acquisition rates can contribute large numbers of infected ticks, and thus help maintain the enzootic cycle, even if their levels of reservoir competence are relatively low.
    Journal of Medical Entomology 11/2010; 47(6):1019-27. · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mosquito host-seeking activity was studied using a custom-designed trap to explore: (1) at which time interval of the night adult mosquito abatement would be most effective, and (2) if there exists an avian-specific host-seeking preference. Overnight trials using traps baited with dry ice showed that Aedes taeniorhynchus (Wiedemann) was most active at dusk and was then captured throughout the night. In contrast, Culex spp. (Cx. pipiens (Linnaeus) and Cx. restuans (Theobald) delayed most activity until about two h after dusk and were then captured through the night. This pattern suggests that management activities directed at adult Culex spp. would be most effective if initiated well after sunset. Mosquito capture rates in traps baited with birds in net bags were significantly greater than those with empty net bags, indicating that mosquitoes were attracted to the birds and not incidentally being sucked in by the custom trap's strong fan motor (Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test, n=24, t=30, p<0.05). Regression analysis showed that bird weight influenced mosquito attraction (r2=0.21, p=0.02). Trials with paired traps that contained different native bird species showed that Gray Catbirds, Dumatella carolinensis, attracted more mosquitoes than the heavier Northern Cardinals, Cardinalis cardinalis (paired samples t-test, t=2.58, df=7, p=0.04). However, attractiveness did not differ substantially among bird species, and Gray Catbirds did not attract more mosquitoes than all other birds combined as a group. American Robins, Turdus migratorius (n=4) were comparable in attractiveness to other bird species, but not enough American Robins were captured for a comprehensive study of mosquito avian preference.
    Journal of Vector Ecology 06/2010; 35(1):69-74. · 1.23 Impact Factor
  • Howard S Ginsberg, Ilia Rochlin, Scott R Campbell
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    ABSTRACT: Utility of early-season mosquito surveillance to predict West Nile virus activity in late summer was assessed in Suffolk County, NY. Dry ice-baited CDC miniature light traps paired with gravid traps were set weekly. Maximum-likelihood estimates of WNV positivity, minimum infection rates, and % positive pools were generally well correlated. However, positivity in gravid traps was not correlated with positivity in CDC light traps. The best early-season predictors of WNV activity in late summer (estimated using maximum-likelihood estimates of Culex positivity in August and September) were early date of first positive pool, low numbers of mosquitoes in July, and low numbers of mosquito species in July. These results suggest that early-season entomological samples can be used to predict WNV activity later in the summer, when most human cases are acquired. Additional research is needed to establish which surveillance variables are most predictive and to characterize the reliability of the predictions.
    Journal of Vector Ecology 06/2010; 35(1):35-42. · 1.23 Impact Factor
  • Maria A. Aliberti Lubertazzi, Howard S. Ginsberg
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    ABSTRACT: Natal habitat use by dragonflies was assessed on an urban to rural land-use gradient at a set of 21 wetlands, during two emergence seasons (2004, 2005). The wetlands were characterized for urbanization level by using the first factor from a principal components analysis combining chloride concentration in the wetland and percent forest in the surrounding buffer zone. Measurements of species diversity and its components (species richness and evenness) were analyzed and compared along the urbanization gradient, as were distributions of individual species. Dragonfly diversity, species richness, and evenness did not change along the urbanization gradient, so urban wetlands served as natal habitat for numerous dragonfly species. However, several individual species displayed strong relationships to the degree of urbanization, and most were more commonly found at urban sites and at sites with fish. In contrast, relatively rare species were generally found at the rural end of the gradient. These results suggest that urban wetlands can play important roles as dragonfly habitat and in dragonfly conservation efforts, but that conservation of rural wetlands is also important for some dragonfly species. KeywordsOdonata-Exuviae-Lentic-Wetland
    Urban Ecosystems 01/2010; 13(4):517-533.
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    ABSTRACT: : Mosquito host-seeking activity was studied using a custom-designed trap to explore: (1) at which time interval of the night adult mosquito abatement would be most effective, and (2) if there exists an avian-specific host-seeking preference. Overnight trials using traps baited with dry ice showed that Aedes taeniorhynchus (Wiedemann) was most active at dusk and was then captured throughout the night. In contrast, Culex spp. (Cx. pipiens (Linnaeus) and Cx. restuans (Theobald) delayed most activity until about two h after dusk and were then captured through the night. This pattern suggests that management activities directed at adult Culex spp. would be most effective if initiated well after sunset. Mosquito capture rates in traps baited with birds in net bags were significantly greater than those with empty net bags, indicating that mosquitoes were attracted to the birds and not incidentally being sucked in by the custom trap's strong fan motor (Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test, n= 24, t= 30, p < 0.05). Regression analysis showed that bird weight influenced mosquito attraction (r2= 0.21, p= 0.02). Trials with paired traps that contained different native bird species showed that Gray Catbirds, Dumatella carolinensis, attracted more mosquitoes than the heavier Northern Cardinals, Cardinalis cardinalis (paired samples t-test, t= 2.58, df= 7, p= 0.04). However, attractiveness did not differ substantially among bird species, and Gray Catbirds did not attract more mosquitoes than all other birds combined as a group. American Robins, Turdus migratorius (n = 4) were comparable in attractiveness to other bird species, but not enough American Robins were captured for a comprehensive study of mosquito avian preference.
    Journal of Vector Ecology - J VECTOR ECOL. 01/2010; 35(1):69-74.
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    ABSTRACT: Open marsh water management (OMWM) is a commonly used approach to manage salt marsh mosquitoes than can obviate the need for pesticide application and at the same time, partially restore natural functions of grid-ditched marshes. OMWM includes a variety of hydrologic manipulations, often tailored to the specific conditions on individual marshes, so the overall effectiveness of this approach is difficult to assess. Here, we report the results of controlled field trials to assess the effects of two approaches to OMWM on larval mosquito production at National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). A traditional OMWM approach, using pond construction and radial ditches was used at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey, and a ditch-plugging approach was used at Parker River NWR in Massachusetts. Mosquito larvae were sampled from randomly placed stations on paired treatment and control marshes at each refuge. The proportion of sampling stations that were wet declined after OMWM at the Forsythe site, but not at the Parker River site. The proportion of samples with larvae present and mean larval densities, declined significantly at the treatment sites on both refuges relative to the control marshes. Percentage of control for the 2 yr posttreatment, compared with the 2 yr pretreatment, was >90% at both treatment sites.
    Journal of Medical Entomology 11/2009; 46(6):1392-9. · 1.86 Impact Factor
  • Ilia Rochlin, Howard S Ginsberg, Scott R Campbell
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    ABSTRACT: Culex species were monitored at three proximate sites with historically different West Nile virus (WNV) activities. The site with human WNV transmission (epidemic) had the lowest abundance of the putative bridge vectors, Culex pipiens and Cx. salinarius. The site with horse cases but not human cases (epizootic) had the highest percent composition of Cx. salinarius, whereas the site with WNV-positive birds only (enzootic) had the highest Cx. pipiens abundance and percent composition. A total of 29 WNV-positive Culex pools were collected at the enzootic site, 17 at the epidemic site, and 14 at the epizootic site. Published models of human risk using Cx. pipiens and Cx. salinarius as the primary bridge vectors did not explain WNV activity at our sites. Other variables, such as additional vector species, environmental components, and socioeconomic factors, need to be examined to explain the observed patterns of WNV epidemic activity.
    The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 05/2009; 80(4):661-8. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Tabanidae of Rhode Island were surveyed using Rhode Island canopy traps placed at 20 locations in the state during the summers of 1999 and 2000. In total, 5,120 flies were collected, which included 55 species in the genera Chrysops, Hybomitra, Tabanus, Merycomyia, and Stonemyia. Distributional and ecological information is provided for each species in Rhode Island.
    Annals of the Entomological Society of America 01/2009; · 1.20 Impact Factor
  • Howard S Ginsberg
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    ABSTRACT: Ticks are often infected with more than one pathogen, and several field surveys have documented nonrandom levels of coinfection. Levels of coinfection by pathogens in four tick species were analyzed using published infection data. Coinfection patterns of pathogens in field-collected ticks include numerous cases of higher or lower levels of coinfection than would be expected due to chance alone, but the vast majority of these cases can be explained on the basis of vertebrate host associations of the pathogens, without invoking interactions between pathogens within ticks. Nevertheless, some studies have demonstrated antagonistic interactions, and some have suggested potential mutualisms, between pathogens in ticks. Negative or positive interactions between pathogens within ticks can affect pathogen prevalence, and thus transmission patterns. Probabilistic projections suggest that the effect on transmission depends on initial conditions. When the number of tick bites is relatively low (e.g., for ticks biting humans) changes in prevalence in ticks are predicted to have a commensurate effects on pathogen transmission. In contrast, when the number of tick bites is high (e.g., for wild animal hosts) changes in pathogen prevalence in ticks have relatively little effect on levels of transmission to reservoir hosts, and thus on natural transmission cycles.
    Experimental and Applied Acarology 12/2008; 46(1-4):29-41. · 1.85 Impact Factor
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    I Rochlin, K Harding, H S Ginsberg, S R Campbell
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    ABSTRACT: Five years of CDC light trap data from Suffolk County, NY, were analyzed to compare the applicability of human population density (HPD) and land use/cover (LUC) classification systems to describe mosquito abundance and to determine whether certain mosquito species of medical importance tend to be more common in urban (defined by HPD) or residential (defined by LUC) areas. Eleven study sites were categorized as urban or rural using U.S. Census Bureau data and by LUC types using geographic information systems (GISs). Abundance and percent composition of nine mosquito taxa, all known or potential vectors of arboviruses, were analyzed to determine spatial patterns. By HPD definitions, three mosquito species, Aedes canadensis (Theobald), Coquillettidia perturbans (Walker), and Culiseta melanura (Coquillett), differed significantly between habitat types, with higher abundance and percent composition in rural areas. Abundance and percent composition of these three species also increased with freshwater wetland, natural vegetation areas, or a combination when using LUC definitions. Additionally, two species, Ae. canadensis and Cs. melanura, were negatively affected by increased residential area. One species, Aedes vexans (Meigen), had higher percent composition in urban areas. Two medically important taxa, Culex spp. and Aedes triseriatus (Say), were proportionally more prevalent in residential areas by LUC classification, as was Aedes trivittatus (Coquillett). Although HPD classification was readily available and had some predictive value, LUC classification resulted in higher spatial resolution and better ability to develop location specific predictive models.
    Journal of Medical Entomology 06/2008; 45(3):563-71. · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Storm-water drainage catch basins are manmade structures that often contain water and organic matter, making them suitable environments for various organisms. We censused organisms inhabiting catch basins in southern Rhode Island in 2002 in an effort to begin to describe these communities. Catch-basin inhabitants were mostly detritivores, including annelids, arthropods, and mollusks that could withstand low oxygen levels and droughts. Our results suggest that catch-basin inhabitants were mostly washed in with rainwater, and populations increased over the summer season as biotic activity resulted in increased nutrient levels later in the summer. In contrast, mosquitoes and other Diptera larvae were abundant earlier in the summer because the adults actively sought catch basins for oviposition sites. Mosquito larvae were likely to be abundant in catch basins with shallow, stagnant water that had relatively low dissolved oxygen and pH, and relatively high total suspended solids, carbon, and nitrogen.
    Northeastern Naturalist 05/2007; · 0.36 Impact Factor
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    Neeta P Connally, Howard S Ginsberg, Thomas N Mather
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    ABSTRACT: The roles of entomologic risk factors, including density of nymphal blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), prevalence of nymphal infection with the etiologic agent (Borrelia burgdorferi), and density of infected nymphs, in determining the risk of human Lyme disease were assessed at residences in the endemic community of South Kingstown, RI. Nymphs were sampled between May and July from the wooded edge around 51 and 47 residential properties in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Nymphs were collected from all residences sampled. Tick densities, infection rates, and densities of infected nymphs were all significantly higher around homes reporting Lyme disease histories in 2003, while only infection rates were significantly higher in 2002. However, densities of infected nymphs did not significantly predict the probability of Lyme disease at a residence (by logistic regression) in either year. There were no significant differences in entomologic risk factors between homes with state-confirmed Lyme disease histories and homes with self-reported cases (not reported to the state health department). Therefore, although entomologic risk factors tended to be higher at residences with cases of Lyme disease, entomological indices, in the absence of human behavior measures, were not useful predictors of Lyme disease at the scale of individual residences in a tick-endemic community.
    Journal of Vector Ecology 01/2007; 31(2):364-70. · 1.23 Impact Factor