ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Bloodsucking ticks can lay waste to a moose and infect humans with devastating diseases. But the tiny parasites and the bacteria they carry have no apparent effect on one wee woodland creature: the white-footed mouse.
That conclusion in this month's journal Ecology underscores why the mouse is such an effective transmitter of tick-borne afflictions, including Lyme disease.
The study led by Sarah Lawrence University biologist Michelle Hersh portrayed the mice as super hosts. Mice with hundreds of ticks survived just as well as those with only a few.
Co-author Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute in Dutchess County says the study underscores the importance of natural predators and other mouse-control factors in reducing spread of Lyme disease.