Lyme borreliosis in Canada: biological diversity and diagnostic complexity from an entomological perspective
Janet L.H. Sperling, Felix A.H. Sperling
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
Abstract—Lyme borreliosis (LB), also known as Lyme disease, is emerging as a serious tick- borne illness across Canada. More than three decades of research on LB in North America and Europe have provided a large, complex body of research involving well-documented difficulties at several levels. However, entomologists are well situated to contribute to resolving some of these challenges. The central pathogen in LB, the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson et al., includes numerous genospecies and strains that are associated with different disease symptoms and distributions. The primary vectors of LB are ticks of various Ixodes Latreille species (Acari: Ixodida: Ixodidae), but questions linger concerning the status of a number of other arthropods that may be infected with B. burgdorferi but do not transmit it biologically. A variety of vertebrates may serve as reservoirs for LB, but differences in their ability to transmit LB are not well understood at the community level. Persistent cystic forms of and immune- system evasion by B. burgdorferi contribute to extraordinary challenges in diagnosing LB. Multiple trade-offs constrain the effectiveness of assays like ELISA, Western blot, polymerase chain reaction, and microscopic visualization of the spirochetes. Consequently, opportunities abound for entomologists to contribute to documenting the diversity of the players and their interactions in this devilishly complex disease.