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Bird-feeding ticks transstadially transmit Borrelia burgdorferi that infect Syrian hamsters.

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Abstract

Bird-feeding Ixodes dammini ticks were documented for the first time to successfully molt and transstadially pass Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes that were indistinguishable by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis from the type B31 strain. Forty-six of 73 blood-engorged larvae and 50 of 66 fully-fed nymphs, removed from wild-caught birds, successfully molted. Borreliae were isolated from 21 of 78 partially- and fully-fed larvae off birds, including six specimens that molted. Spirochete-positive cultures also were obtained from 35 of 60 partially- and fully-fed nymphs that had fed from birds, including 20 nymphs that molted into adult ticks. Transstadially passed borreliae by bird-feeding larval and nymphal I. dammini were infectious to hamsters, leading us to suggest that these ticks are capable of subsequently transmitting infectious spirochetes to mammals, including humans. An isolated of B. burgdorferi, recovered from a bird-feeding larval Ixodes dentatus, was indistinguishable by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis from the B31 strain. This isolate, unlike another from I. dentatus off a cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus), had a protein band with a molecular weight of approximately 31,000 that reacted with murine monoclonal antibodies H3TS and H5332 in western blot analysis. Thus, closely related borreliae are present in both I. dentatus and I. dammini.

J Wildl Dis. 1990 Jan;26(1):1-10.

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