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Acquired resistance and antibody response of raccoons (Procyon lotor) to sequential feedings of Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae).

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Abstract

Captive-bred raccoons (Procyon lotor) developed immune resistance to infestation by the larval stage of the ixodid tick, Ixodes scapularis, the vector of Borrelia burgdorferi, following repeated applications of both nymphs and larvae. Resistance was expressed as a significant decrease in the proportion of engorged larvae recovered from each cohort. Resistance to nymphs was not noted, but, only two such cohorts were applied. Utilizing an enzyme-linked immunosor-bent assay (ELISA) developed to detect raccoon serum antibodies to tick salivary gland antigens, raccoons evidenced a two to ten-fold increase in anti-tick salivary extract antibody titer following the application of two cohorts of nymphs and eights cohorts of larvae. The tick saliva antigens recognized by both pre- and post-exposure raccoon sera were evaluated by Western blotting. The production of antibodies correlated with the development of resistance to infestation, suggesting that the resistance was immune-mediated and could be measured by anti-tick salivary extract antibody titers. Resistance in exposed raccoons prevents nearly 90% of larvae from prolonged feeding. Prolonged feeding is required for engorgement and the transmission of various infectious agents, such as B. burgdorferi.

Vet Parasitol. 1996 Jun;63(3-4):291-301. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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