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Baptism of Fire: Modeling the Effects of Prescribed Fire on Lyme Disease.

Abstract

Recently, tick-borne illnesses have been trending upward and are an increasing source of risk to people's health in the United States. This is due to range expansion in tick habitats as a result of climate change. Thus, it is imperative to find a practical and cost-efficient way of managing tick populations. Prescribed burns are a common form of land management that can be cost-efficient if properly managed and can be applied across large amounts of land. In this study, we present a compartmental model for ticks carrying Lyme disease and uniquely incorporate the effects of prescribed fire using an impulsive system to investigate the effects of prescribed fire intensity (high and low) and the duration between burns. Our study found that fire intensity has a larger impact in reducing tick population than the frequency between burns. Furthermore, burning at high intensity is preferable to burning at low intensity whenever possible, although high-intensity burns may be unrealistic due to environmental factors. Annual burns resulted in the most significant reduction in infectious nymphs, which are the primary carriers of Lyme disease.

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