Ticks are found worldwide and afflict humans with many tick-borne illnesses. Ticks are vectors for pathogens that cause
Lyme disease and tick-borne relapsing fever (Borrelia spp.), Rocky Mountain Spotted fever (Rickettsia rickettsii), ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia chaffeensis and E. equi), anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum), encephalitis (tick-borne encephalitis virus), babesiosis (Babesia spp.), Colorado tick fever (Coltivirus), and tularemia (Francisella tularensis) (1-8). To be properly transmitted into the host these infectious agents differentially regulate gene expression, interact with tick proteins, and migrate through the tick (3,9-13). For example, the
Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi, adapts through differential gene expression to the feast and famine stages of the tick’s enzootic cycle (14,15). Furthermore, as an Ixodes tick consumes a bloodmeal Borrelia replicate and migrate from the midgut into the hemocoel, where they travel to the salivary glands and are transmitted into the host with the expelled saliva (9,16-19). As a tick feeds the host typically responds with a strong hemostatic and innate immune response (11,13,20-22). Despite these host responses, I. scapularis can feed for several days because tick saliva contains proteins that are immunomodulatory, lytic agents, anticoagulants, and fibrinolysins to aid the tick feeding (3,11,20,21,23). The immunomodulatory activities possessed by tick saliva or salivary gland extract (SGE) facilitate transmission, proliferation, and dissemination of numerous tick-borne pathogens (3,20,24-27). To further understand how tick-borne infectious agents cause
disease it is essential to dissect actively feeding ticks and collect tick saliva. This video protocol demonstrates dissection techniques for the collection of hemolymph and the removal of salivary glands from actively feeding I. scapularis nymphs after 48 and 72 hours post mouse placement. We also demonstrate saliva collection from an adult female I. scapularis tick.