Competence of dogs as reservoirs for Lyme disease spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi).

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Dogs become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi after being bitten by infected adult ticks. However, it is not known whether dogs are competent reservoirs of the organism, that is, it is not known whether infected dogs can subsequently transmit the bacterium to feeding immature ticks. To determine reservoir competence of dogs, 11 Beagles were experimentally infected by means of challenge exposure to infected adult deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Three weeks later, larval ticks were allowed to feed on the dogs. Engorged larvae were collected, allowed to molt to the nymph stage, and tested, by means of a direct fluorescent antibody assay, to detect the presence of B burgdorferi organisms. Overall, 78% of immature ticks tested were found to have become infected. We concluded that dogs might serve to increase human risk of exposure to B burgdorferi-infected ticks and, therefore, should be protected from exposure to infected ticks as well as immature ticks seeking a blood meal.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association





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