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Ticks and blood samples were collected from wild birds mist-netted on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia, and at the Wedge Plantation in coastal South Carolina in 1994 and 1995. Immature stages of 5 species of ixodid ticks were recovered from 10 of 148 (7%) birds belonging to 6 species in Georgia, whereas 6 ixodid species were recovered from 45 of 259 (17%) birds representing 10 avian species in South Carolina. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato was isolated from 27 of 120 (23%) screened ticks (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes minor) recovered from South Carolina birds, but from none of 16 screened ticks removed from Georgia birds. This spirochete was also isolated from 1 of 97 (1%) birds in South Carolina. In 1995, neither eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus nor St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus was isolated from any of 218 bird sera screened, but serum neutralizing antibodies were found to EEE virus in 4 of 121 (3%) sera and to SLE virus in 2 of 121 (2%) sera from South Carolina. No antibody to either virus was detected in 51 avian sera screened from Georgia. Trypanosomes (probably Trypanosoma avium) were isolated from 1 of 51 (2%) birds from Georgia and from 13 of 97 (13%) birds from South Carolina. Our data suggest that some wild birds may be reservoir hosts for the
Lyme disease spirochete and for encephalitis viruses in coastal Georgia and South Carolina and that migrating birds can disperse immature ticks infected with B. burgdorferi.