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Borrelia burgdorferi is transmitted from wild animals to humans by the bite of Ixodes dammini. This tick is common in many areas of southern Connecticut where it parasitizes three different host animals during its two-year life cycle. Larval and nymphal ticks have parasitized 31 different species of mammals and 49 species of birds. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) appear to be crucial hosts for adult ticks. All three feeding stages of the tick parasitize humans, though most infections are acquired from feeding nymphs in May through early July. Reservoir hosts for the spirochete include rodents, other mammals, and even birds. White-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) are particularly important reservoirs, and in parts of southern Connecticut where
Lyme disease is prevalent in humans, borreliae are universally present during the summer in these mice. Prevalence of infected ticks has ranged from 10-35%. Isolates of B. burgdorferi from humans, rodents, and I. dammini are usually indistinguishable, but strains of B. burgdorferi with different major proteins have been identified.