Hersh MH, Tibbetts M, Strauss M, Ostfeld RS, Keesing F.
Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2012 Dec; 18(12): 1951-7.
Human babesiosis is an increasing health concern in the northeastern United States, where the causal agent, Babesia microti, is spread through the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis ticks. We sampled 10 mammal and 4 bird species within a vertebrate host community in southeastern New York to quantify reservoir competence (mean percentage of ticks infected by an individual host) using real-time PCR. We found reservoir competence levels >17% in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda), and eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), and <6% but >0% in all other species, including all 4 bird species. Data on the relative contributions of multiple host species to tick infection with B. microti and level of genetic differentiation between B. microti strains transmitted by different hosts will help advance understanding of the spread of human babesiosis.