The competency of ixodes cookei and amblyomma americanum as vectors of the lyme disease spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi

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Ryder, John W.
Pinger, R. R.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Physiology and Health Science
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Uninfected larvae of Ixodes dammini, lxodes cookei, and Amblyomma americanum were fed on hamsters that had been injected intraperitoneally with a sample of Borrelia burgdorferl (2.5 X 107 spirochetes per ml) 21 days earlier. A total of 108 of these larvae comprised of 36 1. dammini, 36 i. cookei, and 36 A. americanum were aseptically dissected and examined by darkfield and immunofluorescent microscopy for the presence of B. burgdorferl within 48 hours of feeding on the B. burgdorferi infected hamsters. The removal and examination of the midgut diverticula revealed that 32/36 (88.9%) of the l. dammini larvae contained B. burgdorferl. Only 5/36 (13.9%) of the l. cookei larvae and 7/36 of the A. americanum larvae harbored spirochetes in their midgut diverticula.A portion of the nymphs that molted from the above larvae were also dissected and examined by darkfleld and indirect immunofluorescent techniques. Borrelia burgdorferi were observed in the midgut diverticula of 94/107 (87.8%) of the l. dammini nymphs. None of the 30 (0%) l. cookei nymphs examined were found positive for spirochetes and only 1/60 (1.7%) of the A. americanum nymphs was found positive for B. burgdorrerl.A total of 83 lL dammini, 53 A. americanum, and 161. cookei nymphs reared from larvae that fed to repletion on hamsters infected with B. burgdorrerl were allowed to feed on uninfected hamsters to assess transmission of B. burgdorrerl. Transmission was demonstrated only by the l. dammlnl nymphs. The findings of this study suggest that it is extremely unlikely that l. cookei can serve as a vector for B. burgdorrerl, but do not rule out completely the possibility that A. americanum may be able to maintain B, burgdorrerl infections transstadially and, under certain conditions, transmit the organisms to vertebrate hosts.