Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Virginia E. Pitzer


INTRODUCTION: Lyme disease is an emerging tick-borne disease of increasing concern in the United States. In order to create and to implement effective public health interventions for Lyme disease, there must be a better understanding of the factors driving pathogen transmission.

OBJECTIVES: The primary objectives of this study were to determine how presence/absence of “super-spreaders” and observed differences between two ecologically contrasting sites influence Borrelia burgdorferi transmission.

METHODS: A next generation matrix R0 model was parameterized with field data from an island site (Block Island, Rhode Island) and a mainland site (Connecticut) in order to generate R0 estimates. A local elasticity analysis was performed in order to identify crucial parameters.

RESULTS: Super-spreaders caused the majority of pathogen transmission but did not greatly influence total transmission. R0 estimates were greater for the island site than for the mainland site, and island R0 estimates increased from 2013 to 2014. Model sensitivity to parameter values also varied across sites and years.

CONCLUSION: The dynamics of B. burgdorferi transmission may differ across sites and over time within a single site. Additional research is necessary to validate the results of this model and to identify predictors of certain transmission patterns in order to inform public health strategies, particularly as the effects of climate change intensify.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access