Migratory songbirds disperse ticks across Canada, and first isolation of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, from the avian tick, Ixodes auritulus.


During a 3-yr comprehensive study, 196 ixodid ticks (9 species) were collected from 89 passerine birds (32 species) from 25 localities across Canada to determine the distribution of avian-associated tick species and endogenous Lyme disease spirochetes, Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt, and Brenner. We report the following first records of tick parasitism on avian hosts: the rabbit-associated tick, Ixodes dentatus Marx, from Manitoba and Ontario; the mouse tick, Ixodes muris Bishopp and Smith, from British Columbia; and the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, from New Brunswick. Moreover, we provide the first record of the Neotropical tick, Amblyomma humerale Koch (1 nymph), in Canada and its parasitism of any bird. This tick was compared morphologically with nymphs of other Neotropical Amblyomma spp., and genetically, using a 344-bp fragment of the 12S rDNA sequence of 41 New World Amblyomma species. The first collections of the western blacklegged tick, Ixodes pacificus Cooley and Kohls, from passerine species in Alberta and British Columbia, are also reported. Notably, we further report the first isolation of B. burgdorferi from the bird tick, Ixodes auritulus Neumann, collected from an American robin, Turdus migratorius L., on Vancouver Island. Furthermore, B. burgdorferi-positive I. auritulus larvae were collected from a reservoir-competent fox sparrow, Passerella iliaca (Merrem). Our findings indicate that ground-dwelling passerines, in particular, are parasitized by certain ixodid ticks and play an important role across Canada in the wide dispersal of B. burgdorferi-infected ticks and increased risk of Lyme disease exposure.

Migratory birds disperse ticks across Canada …”

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