Diversity of Babesia infecting deer ticks (Ixodes dammini)

P M Armstrong, P Katavolos, D A Caporale, R P Smith, A Spielman, S R Telford
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1998, 58 (6): 739-42
To determine whether the presence of nonpathogenic piroplasms may confound field estimates of risk of Babesia microti infection, we identified sporozoites infecting the salivary glands of deer ticks (Ixodes dammini) by parallel microscopy and polymerase chain reaction assays. Piroplasms were evident in 14.4% of adult ticks from sites in the northcentral and northeastern United States. Of these, 83.3% contained DNA characteristic of Ba. odocoilei. This cervid piroplasm was detected in all of the sites examined and generally was more prevalent than was Ba. microti. Because deer ticks transmit both Ba. odocoilei and Ba. microti, estimates of pathogen prevalence based solely on microscopy may overestimate the risk of human babesiosis.

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