Limited capacity of deer to serve as zooprophylactic hosts for < em > Borrelia burgdorferi < /em > in northeastern United States

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2022 Feb 2:aem0004222. doi: 10.1128/aem.00042-22. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTBecause deer are considered to be incompetent reservoirs of the agent of Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto) in the northeastern U.S., they may serve as zooprophylactic or "dilution" hosts if larvae of the deer tick vector (Ixodes dammini, "northern" clade of Ixodes scapularis) frequently feed on them. To determine whether host-seeking nymphal deer ticks commonly feed on deer as larvae, we used a real time PCR host bloodmeal remnant identification assay to identify the host on which these ticks had fed. Nymphal Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) were collected simultaneously in our sites and provided an index of the availability of deer in these sites. At 3 of the 4 sites, Ixodes nymphs had fed as larvae on a variety of hosts, including mice, birds and shrews, but rarely on deer (<6% for all sites); in contrast, Lone star tick nymphs had commonly fed on deer (31-78%). Deer were common larval hosts for Ixodes ticks (39% of bloodmeals) in only one site. The prevalence of B. burgdorferi in host seeking nymphal deer ticks was associated with mouse-fed ticks (p=0.007) but there was no association with deer-fed ticks (p=0.5). The diversity and prevalence of hosts that were identified differed between deer ticks and Lone star ticks that were collected simultaneously, demonstrating that there is no confounding of host bloodmeal identification by contaminating e...
Source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology - Category: Microbiology Authors: Source Type: research