Journal article Open Access
Childs, James E.; Paddock, Christopher D.
Until the 1990s, Amblyomma americanum was regarded primarily as a nuisance species, but a tick of minor importance as a vector of zoonotic pathogens affecting humans. With the recent discoveries of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia ewingii, and "Borrelia lonestari," the public health relevance of lone star ticks is no longer in question. During the next 25 years, the number of cases of human disease caused by A. americanum-associated pathogens will probably increase. Based on current trajectories and historic precedents, the increase will be primarily driven by biological and environmental factors that alter the geographic distribution and intensity of transmission of zoonotic pathogens. Sociologic and demographic changes that influence the likelihood of highly susceptible humans coming into contact with infected lone star ticks, in addition to advances in diagnostic capabilities and national surveillance efforts, will also contribute to the anticipated increase in the number of recognized cases of disease.