Borrelia garinii in seabird ticks (Ixodes uriae), Atlantic coast, North America

Robert P. Smith, Jr, Sabir Bin Muzaffar, Jennifer L. Lavers, Eleanor H. Lacombe, Bruce K. Cahill, Charles B. Lubelczyk, Allen Kinsler, Amy J. Mathers, Peter W. Rand

Emerging Infectious Diseases 12: 1909–1912 (2006)

Borrelia garinii is the most neurotropic of the genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu lato that cause Lyme disease in Europe, where it is transmitted to avian and mammalian reservoir hosts and to humans by Ixodes ricinus. B. garinii is also maintained in an enzootic cycle in seabirds by I. uriae, a tick found at high latitudes in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. To determine whether B. garinii is present in seabird ticks on the Atlantic Coast of North America, we examined 261 I. uriae ticks by polyclonal antiborrelial fluorescent antibody. Ten of 61 ticks from Gull Island, Newfoundland, were positive for borreliae by this screen. Amplicons of DNA obtained by PCR that targeted the B. garinii rrs-rrla intergenic spacer were sequenced and matched to GenBank sequences for B. garinii. The potential for introduction of this agent into the North American Lyme disease enzootic is unknown