Pathogen Coinfections Harbored by Adult italic toggle="yes"Ixodes scapularis from White-Tailed Deer Compared with Questing Adults across Sites in Maryland, USA

Matthew T. Milholland, Guang Xu, Stephen M. Rich, Erika T. MacHtinger, Jennifer M. Mullinax, Andrew Y. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, can acquire and transmit tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) responsible for diseases such as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum [ANPH]), babesiosis (Babesia microti [BABE]), Lyme borreliosis (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato [BBSL]), and the relatively novel relapsing fever-like illness, Borrelia miyamotoi (BMIY) disease in the northeastern United States. Coinfections with these pathogens are becoming increasingly more common in I. scapularis and their hosts, likely attributed to their shared enzootic cycles. Urban habitats are favorable to host species such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and these ungulates are known to be important to I. scapularis for reproduction and dispersal in North America. To understand the relationship between TBPs, white-tailed deer, and I. scapularis, we sampled eight sites across central Maryland collecting I. scapularis using standard tick dragging/flagging methods and retrieved others from deer carcasses. Pathogenic TBP species in each tick were determined using qPCR. In total, 903 adult ticks (deer: N = 573; questing: N = 330) revealed landscape-level prevalence of ANPH (27.8%), BABE (1.3%), BBSL (14.6%), and BMIY (0.8%) as singular infections overall. However, secondary coinfections of ANPH and BBSL were highest (9.9%) in ticks feeding from deer while associations of BBSL and BABE (4.2%) were highest in questing ticks. Results from this study provide evidence suggesting that adult I. scapularis acquire pathogenic species through phenologically associated host use, and thus, subsequent infections found in adults may provide insights into coinfection relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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