Birds disperse ixodid (Acari: Ixodidae) and Borrelia burgdorferi-infected ticks in Canada

Source Lyme Disease Association of Ontario, Fergus, Canada


A total of 152 ixodid ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) consisting of nine species was collected from 82 passerine birds (33 species) in 14 locations in Canada from 1996 to 2000. The Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmidt, Hyde, Steigerwaldt & Brenner was cultured from the nymph of a blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, that had been removed from a common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas L., from Bon Portage Island, Nova Scotia. As a result of bird movement, a nymphal I. scapularis removed from a Swainson’s thrush, Catharus ustulatus incanus (Godfrey), at Slave Lake, Alberta, during spring migration becomes the new, most western and northern record of this tick species in Canada. Amblyomma longirostre Koch, Amblyomma sabanerae Stoll, and Ixodes baergi Cooley & Kohls are reported for the first time in Canada. Similarly, Amblyomma americanum L., Arnblyomma maculatum Koch, and ixodes muris Bishopp & Smith are reported for the first time on birds in Canada. After removal of an I. muris gravid female from a song sparrow, Melospiza melodia Wilson, at St. Andrews, New Brunswick, eggs were laid, which developed into larvae, and this new tick-host record demonstrates that birds have the potential to start a new tick population. We conclude that passerine birds disperse several species of ixodid ticks in Canada, and during spring migration translocate ticks from the United States, and Central and South America, some of which are infected with B. burgdorferi


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