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Apparent incompetence of Dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae) and fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera) as vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi in an Ixodes dammini endemic area of Ontario, Canada.

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Abstract

From April to October 1990, white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque), were examined for ectoparasites on Long Point, Ontario, the only endemic area for Ixodes dammini Clifford, Spielman, Piesman & Corwin and Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner known in Canada. Larval and nymphal I. dammini and Dermacentor variabilis (Packard), and adult fleas Orchopeas leucopus (Baker), Epitedia wenmanni (Rothschild), and Ctenophthalamus pseudagrytes Baker were common on trapped mice. Questing ticks were collected by dragging, near the sites of mouse trapping, from April to November 1990. Indirect immunofluorescent assay established that 58.3% of adult, 17.3% of nymphal, and 0.15% of larval I. dammini questing at Long Point were infected with B. burgdorferi, indicating that infected mammalian reservoir hosts are common. None of 593 adult, 2 nymphal, and 4 larval D. variabilis collected while questing were infected; and only 1 of 322 fleas (O. leucopus) removed from white-footed mice was infected. The fact that no unfed adult D. variabilis and only one flea were infected, in a situation where the probability of exposure of hematophagous ectoparasites is moderately high, suggests that this species of tick and the fleas examined are poor vectors for the
Lyme disease spirochete.

J Med Entomol. 1991 Sep;28(5):750-3. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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