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Ticks and antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi from mammals at Cape Hatteras, NC and Assateague Island, MD and VA.

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Abstract

Results of a survey for ixodid ticks and/or serum antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi from 14 species of small to large mammals from eastern coastal areas of the United States are presented. Most samples were obtained from July 1987 through June 1989 (excluding December-March) at 3 locales: Assateague Is. National Seashore, Worcester Co., MD., and Accomack Co., VA. (approximately 38 degrees 05′ N 75 degrees 10′ W), and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Dare Co., NC (approximately 35 degrees 30′ N 76 degrees 35′ W). Hosts sampled included opossums (Didelphis virginiana), least shrews (Cryptotis parva), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), raccoons (Procyon lotor), feral cats (Felis sylvestris), feral horses (Equus caballus), sika deer (Cervus nippon), rice rats (Oryzomys palustris), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus), house mice (Mus musculus), norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) and jumping mice (Zapus hudsonius). An indirect fluorescent antibody test was used for testing sera from opossums, raccoons, and feral cats; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used for sera from foxes, horses, deer, and house and white-footed mice. Antibodies to B. burgdorferi were found in all species tested from each locale. Seasonal data reinforce the contention that P. leucopus is a suitable sentinel species for B. burgdorferi. Ticks on hosts included Ixodes scapularis Say, I. texanus Banks, Dermacentor variabilis (Say), D. albipictus (Packard), and Amblyomma americanum (L.). Males comprised approximately 0-22 and 60-81% of Ixodes sp. and Amblyomma-Dermacentor adults collected from hosts, respectively. All stages of A. americanum, adult D. variabilis, and larval I. scapularis were collected from vegetation. The highest seropositivity rate (67%) was recorded for 45 P. leucopus at Assateague during July, approximately 1 mo. after peak nymphal I. scapularis intensity. Borrelia burgdorferi was isolated from 6 nymphal and 12 female I. scapularis collected from P. leucopus and C. nippon, respectively, on Assateague.

J Med Entomol. 1999 Sep;36(5):578-87. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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