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Ecology of Borrelia burgdorferi in ticks (Acari: Ixodidae), rodents, and birds in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Placer County, California.

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By Wright SA, Thompson MA, Miller MJ, Knerl KM, Elms SL, Karpowicz JC, Young JF, Kramer VL • www.ProHealth.com • November 1, 2000


Abstract

This study examined the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner in host-seeking adult and nymphal Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls and estimated the I. pacificus infestation and B. burgdorferi infection of rodent and avian hosts in the western Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. Additionally, we identified species likely to participate in an enzootic cycle for B. burgdorferi in this yellow pine transition habitat. Evidence of infection with B. burgdorferi was identified in 7.3 and 5.4% of host-seeking I. pacificus adults and nymphs, respectively. Mean numbers of I. pacificus observed on rodents were 1.15 for Neotoma fuscipes Baird and 0.18 for Peromyscus spp. One of 104 ear punch tissues obtained from woodrats and none from 49 Peromyscus spp. yielded B. burgdorferi. A total of 291 collected birds representing 34 species had a mean of 0.27 I. pacificus per bird. The mean I. pacificus infestation of ground-dwelling birds was 2.5 ticks per bird. Forty-nine of 92 (53%) blood smears collected from birds were reactive to a B. burgdorferi specific antibody. This study presents the identification of a B. burgdorferi-like spirochete in birds in western North America. The tick burden and spirochete infection of birds suggests that birds may be involved in a local B. burgdorferi enzootic cycle and likely participate in the transport of ticks and spirochetes to other locations while rodents from this site do not appear to be major contributors.

J Med Entomol. 2000 Nov;37(6):909-18.





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