Effects of stress exposure in captivity on physiology and infection in avian hosts: no evidence of increased Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. infectivity to vector ticks

Microb Ecol. 2021 Mar 23. doi: 10.1007/s00248-021-01738-3. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTExposure to environmental stressors, an increasingly recurring event in natural communities due to anthropogenic-induced environmental change, profoundly impacts disease emergence and spread. One mechanism through which this occurs is through stress-induced immunosuppression increasing disease susceptibility, prevalence, intensity and reactivation in hosts. We experimentally evaluated how exposure to stressors affected both the physiology of avian hosts and the prevalence of the zoonotic bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.), in two model species-the blackbird Turdus merula and the robin Erithacus rubecula captured in the wild, using xenodiagnoses and analysis of skin biopsies and blood. Although exposure to stressors in captivity induced physiological stress in birds (increased the number of circulating heterophils), there was no evidence of increased infectivity to xenodiagnostic ticks. However, Borrelia detection in the blood for both experimental groups of blackbirds was higher by the end of the captivity period. The infectivity and efficiency of transmission were higher for blackbirds than robins. When comparing different methodologies to determine infection status, xenodiagnosis was a more sensitive method than skin biopsies and blood samples, which could be attributed to mild levels of infection in these avian hosts and/or dynamics and timing of Borrelia infection relapse...
Source: Microbial Ecology - Category: Microbiology Authors: Source Type: research

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