Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

The Tickpro Computer Program for Predicting Ixodes Ricinus Host-Seeking Activity and the Warning System Published on Websites

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

The Tickpro Computer Program for Predicting Ixodes Ricinus Host-Seeking Activity and the Warning System Published on Websites

Article excerpt


The computer program with the acronym TICKPRO (tick prognosis) facilitates medium-range forecasts of the level of host-seeking activity in ticks within a 1-4 day horizon. The program is based on the medium-range weather forecast routinely produced at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI), as well as on previously developed mathematical models describing the correlation of meteorological factors with the host-seeking activity of Ixodes ricinus.

These models are based on a 6-year whole-season monitoring of I. ricinus host-seeking activity on experimental fields in the Central Bohemia Region in a typical habitat, oakhornbeam forest, where tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus and Borrelia burgdorferi s.str., B. afzelii, and B. garinii have been found. Meteorological data provided by the CHMI meteorological station in Prague-Libus were used, and during the development of the forecasting algorithm micrometeorological data have been collected directly at the tick monitoring sites under selected synoptic weather situations. In the TICKPRO program, the two most successful models utilized ambient air temperature, quantity of atmospheric precipitation, and relative air humidity.

The prediction determines 5 levels of risk of attack according to the current proportion of host-seeking ticks, and thus determines the risk of TBE infection. The levels of risk defined by the TICKPRO program are supplemented by instructions on how to prepare oneself for entering sites with potential tick occurrence, how to move around once there, and how to behave on returning home. This warning system is weekly published on websites of National Institute of Public Health and CHMI, Prague, over entire season (March-November).

Key words: Ixodes ricinus tick activity, prediction of attack risk level, warning system, TICKPRO computer program, tick-borne encephalitis


Human infection with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus and borreliae causing Lyme borreliosis (LB) depends on the attachment of an infected Ixodes ricinus tick which is the major vector of these zoonoses in Europe. In the Czech Republic, cases of possible TBE infection via the alimentary tract are rather sporadic (1). Since there exists no specific remedy for TBE, the most important protection (aside from vaccination) is targeted prevention which primarily includes the minimizing of the risk of being attacked by a tick. The level ofthat risk changes depending on weather conditions and their fluctuation on the seasonal as well as day-to-day scale. In the Czech Republic, TBE is a typical recreational- linked infection that is connected with outdoor activities. In the last decade (2000-2009), 6,429 laboratory confirmed human cases have been registered in the data base EPIDAT, National Institute of Public Health, Prague (NIPH). In 2006, there was an exceptionally sudden increase with 1 ,029 registered human TBE cases, the national incidence having reached 10/100,000 inhabitants (2).

Our aim was to create an objective warning system indicating the level of risk of attack by ticks in view of meteorological factors. In question wasn't an attempt to model the whole developmental cycle of I. ricinus, which is a long-term process influenced by a number of factors, but the formation of a program predicting host- seeking activity in the part of the tick population corresponding to that developmental stage.

It is based on the computer program TICKPRO (tick prognosis) producing a medium-range forecast (1-4 days) of five levels of the ho st- seeking tick activity, supplemented with recommendations how to prepare oneself and behave in terrain with possible occurrence of ticks and on returning home.

Each predicted level of risk requires the determination of the current proportion of ticks (of the total local population) that are in the host- seeking stage. Thus, the question involves relative data depending on local conditions (type of natural environment, altitude above sea level, etc. …

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