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Seasonal prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi in natural populations of white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus.

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Abstract

Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of
Lyme disease, was isolated from 111 of 237 Peromyscus leucopus captured during all seasons of the year. Borreliae were cultured from tissues of the spleen (101 mice), left kidney (76 mice), and right kidney (73 mice), from blood (12 mice), and from one fetus. Mice were infected during the winter, when immature Ixodes dammini were inactive. The prevalence of infection during the winter (less than or equal to 33%) was more than twofold lower than that during the summer (ca. 75%), a time when nymphal ticks are abundant. Overwintering, infected mice are reservoir hosts for subadult ticks that begin feeding in early spring. Twenty white-footed mice from which B. burgdorferi was isolated from tissues of spleen or kidney but not from blood were parasitized by larval I. dammini or Dermacentor variabilis which harbored borreliae. We conclude that these mice were infectious to feeding ticks, even though borreliae were not isolated from blood.

J Clin Microbiol. 1987 Aug;25(8):1564-6. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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