ENT586 (=BIO572) Medical and Veterinary Entomology
The focus of my laboratory is medical entomology and vector ecology, with particular emphasis on tick population suppression and transmission dynamics of tick-borne diseases. I have extensive experience with both mosquito and tick ecology, and for the past 11 years have been studying Lyme disease, a tick-transmitted borreliosis. Basic ecologic observations and principles have gone into creating a model that identifies vertebrate reservoirs of Lyme spirochete infection; this model has been used to direct the development of unique targeted tick control strategies, and is currently being used to investigate transmission risk and transmission thresholds. In interacting with public health officials, industry partners and homeowners victimized by disease-carrying ticks, we approach the Lyme disease problem from several directions. New understanding about transmission dynamics is leading to exciting opportunities for developing biorational strategies for preventing Lyme disease and other infections transmitted by ticks. Current studies in my laboratory also include spatial aspects of transmission risk. Our new program in Landscape Epidemiology uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which are computer-based tools that rapidly manipulate and analyze spatial relationships between all sorts of topographic, physiographic and biologic data. A central goal of this program is to develop spatial models of disease transmission risk and to use these models to identify habitat characteristics associated with high and low risk. As Director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease, I also coordinate a multi-disciplinary approach towards studying and controlling arthropod-transmitted diseases, first here in the U.S. but ultimately, worldwide. The Center’s programs include ecologic, epidemiologic, microbiologic, immunologic and even socio-pychological aspects of studying and preventing vector-borne diseases.
Mather, T.N., D. Fish, R.T. Coughlin. 1994. Competence of dogs as reservoirs for Lyme disease spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi). JAVMA 205:
Mather, T.N.. 1993. The dynamics of spirochete transmission between ticks and vertebrates. In Ecology and Environmental Management of Lyme Disease. H. Ginsberg, ed. Rutgers Univ. Press.
Mather, T.N., S.R. Telford III, G.H. Adler. 1991. Absence of transplacental transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes from reservoir mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to their offspring. J Infect Dis 164:564-567.