Relative abundance and prevalence of selected Borrelia infections in Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) from publicly owned lands in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Terry L Schulze, Robert A Jordan, Sean P Healy, Vivien E Roegner, Michael Meddis, Margaret B Jahn, Douglas L Guthrie
Journal of Medical Entomology 2006, 43 (6): 1269-75
To evaluate their potential importance in the transmission of ixodid tick-borne borrelioses in Monmouth County, NJ, we collected host-seeking Ixodes scapularis Say and Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae) adults and nymphs to determine relative encounter frequencies and the infection prevalence of selected Borrelia spp. in their respective tick vectors. We also reviewed records of all ticks submitted for identification by the public in Monmouth County during 2001-2005. Relative abundance of the two species varied markedly among sites. Adult encounter frequencies for the two species were similar; however, A. americanum nymphs were encountered 3 times more frequently than I. scapularis nymphs. Of 435 ticks submitted by the public, 50.1 and 38.9% were I. scapularis and A. americanum, respectively. However, during May through August, the peak Lyme disease transmission season in New Jersey, significantly more submitted ticks were A. americanum (55.9%), compared with I. scapularis (34.1%). Polymerase chain reaction analysis of 94 1. scapularis and 103 A. americanum adults yielded infection prevalences of 31.9% for B. burgdorferi and 5.8% for B. lonestari, respectively. Although the infection prevalence of B. burgdorferi in I. scapularis was considerably higher than the infection prevalence of B. lonestari in A. americanum, the higher encounter frequencies for A. americanum compared with I. scapularis observed in this and other studies may result in increased risk of acquiring exposure to A. americanum-transmitted pathogens. The potential public health implications of these results are discussed.

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