Spatial tick bite exposure and associated risk factors in Scandinavia

Solveig Jore*, Sophie O Vanwambeke, Daniel Slunge, Anders Boman, Karen A Krogfelt, Martin Tugwell Jepsen, Line Vold

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Tick-borne diseases are emerging and re-emerging threats causing public health concerns in Europe and North America. Prevention and control requires understanding of human exposure and behaviour. The aim was to measure exposure to tick bites across Scandinavia, its spatial distribution and the associated risk factors.

Methods
We sent a web-based survey to a randomly chosen population and analysed answers by Principal Component Analysis and Chi-Square. Individual responses were aggregated at the municipality level to assess the spatial distribution of bites.

Results
Nearly 60% of adults reported bites at low levels (1-5 bites); however, the majority were not in their resident municipality. We found two spatial profiles: In their home municipalities, people were most often bitten in less, but not the least, urbanized areas. When visiting other municipalities, people were most frequently bitten in peri-urban areas. Running/walking in the forest, gardening, and paddling/rowing were activities most strongly associated with bites.

Conclusion
Tick bites affect the entire Scandinavian population, with a higher risk in Sweden compared to Denmark and Norway. The frequency of observation of ticks in the environment or on pets might be used as a proxy for the actual risk of exposure to tick bites. Our results indicates that urban-dwelling outdoor enthusiasts and inhabitants of rural areas must be equally targeted for prevention campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1764693
JournalInfection Ecology Epidemiology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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