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Intrinsic competence of three ixodid ticks (Acari) as vectors of the Lyme disease spirochete.

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We compared the intrinsic vector competence of Ixodes dammini Spielman et al., Dermacentor variabilis (Say), and Amblyomma americanum (L.) for the
Lyme disease spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson et al.) on Prudence Island, Rhode Island, a
Lyme disease-endemic site where all three ticks occur together. Natural and experimental spirochete infection rates were determined in those ticks and their degree of contact with white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), the principal reservoir host, was compared. Host-seeking nymphal and adult I. dammini and A. americanum, collected by flagging, were nearly equally abundant, as were adult D. variabilis, but only I. dammini were infected with B. burgdorferi. Larvae and nymphs of both I. dammini and D. variabilis were found infesting mice, but A. americanum never were found on this host. Furthermore, although larvae of all three tick species became infected by ingesting spirochetes while feeding on experimentally infected mice, only I. dammini remained infected following the transstadial molt. These findings suggest that of these three tick species, only I. dammini is competent as a vector of the
Lyme disease spirochete.

J Med Entomol. 1990 Jul;27(4):646-50. Comparative Study; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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