To read the entire article for free, click here.?
Ticks infected via co-feeding transmission can transmit Lyme borreliosis to vertebrate hosts
Vector-borne pathogens establish systemic infections in host tissues to maximize transmission to arthropod vectors. Co-feeding transmission occurs when the pathogen is transferred between infected and naive vectors that feed in close spatiotemporal proximity on a host that has not yet developed a systemic infection.
Borrelia afzelii is a tick-borne spirochete bacterium that causes Lyme borreliosis (LB) and is capable of co-feeding transmission. Whether ticks that acquire LB pathogens via co-feeding are actually infectious to vertebrate hosts has never been tested. We created nymphs that had been experimentally infected as larvae with B. afzelii via co-feeding or systemic transmission, and compared their performance over one complete LB life cycle.
Co-feeding nymphs had a spirochete load that was 26 times lower than systemic nymphs but both nymphs were highly infectious to mice (i.e., probability of nymph-to-host transmission of B. afzelii was