Host contributions to the force of < em > Borrelia burgdorferi < /em > and < em > Babesia microti < /em > transmission differ at edges of and within a small habitat patch

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2022 Jan 5:aem0239121. doi: 10.1128/aem.02391-21. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTIn the northeastern United States, the emergence of Lyme disease has been associated, in part, with the increase of small forest patches. Such disturbed habitat is exploited by generalist species, such as white-footed mice, which are considered the host with the greatest reservoir capacity for the agents of Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto) and human babesiosis (Babesia microti). Spatial risk analyses have identified edge habitat as particularly risky. Using a retrotransposon-based quantitative PCR assay for host bloodmeal remnant identification, we directly measured whether the hosts upon which vector ticks fed differed at the edge or within the contiguous small habitat patch. Questing nymphal deer ticks, Ixodes dammini, the northern clade of Ixodes scapularis, were collected from either the edge or within a thicket on Nantucket Island over 3 transmission seasons and tested for evidence of infection as well as bloodmeal hosts. Tick bloodmeal hosts significantly differed by site as well as by year. Mice and deer were identified most often (49.9%), but shrews, rabbits and birds were also common. Ticks from the edge fed on a greater diversity of hosts than those from the thicket. Surprisingly, mice were not strongly associated with either infection at either sampling site (OR<2 for all). Although shrews were not the most common host utilized by ticks, they ...
Source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology - Category: Microbiology Authors: Source Type: research