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Migratory Songbirds Transport Amblyomma longirostre and Amblyomma maculatum Ticks to Canada


Birds transport ticks into Canada during northward spring migration, and some of these ticks are infected with tick-borne zoonotic pathogens. Some Amblyomma species harbour pathogens that cause debilitating diseases that can be fatal to humans, and domestic and wildlife animals. At least 65 Amblyomma spp. are indigenous in the Western Hemisphere, and approximately half bite humans. Amblyomma longirostre carries Rickettsia amblyommatis which causes spotted fever group rickettsiosis, a febrile disease in humans. Additionally, Amblyomma maculatum harbors and transmits Rickettsia parkeri, a spotted fever group rickettsiosis, and this tick bites humans. In the present study, we use two technologies to identify ticks. To confirm identification, we took microphotographs followed by DNA barcoding of the cytochrome c oxidase I gene. Based on molecular analysis, we confirmed that the two Amblyomma spp. were Amblyomma longirostre, a neotropical tick and Amblyomma maculatum, the Gulf Coast tick. Based on our tick-bird findings, we confirm that migratory songbirds transport Amblyomma ticks into Canada, and have the potential, either directly or indirectly, to transmit tick-borne zoonotic pathogens to humans.

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