Presence of Babesia odocoilei and Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Stricto in a Tick and Dual Parasitism of Amblyomma inornatum and Ixodes scapularis on a Bird in Canada
Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland)
Healthcare (Basel). 2019 Mar 20;7(1). pii: E46
Scott JD, Clark KL, Durden LA
Wild birds transport ticks into Canada that harbor a diversity of zoonotic pathogens. However, medical practitioners often question how these zoonotic pathogens are present in their locality. In this study, we provide the first report of an Amblyomma inornatum tick cofeeding with a blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, which parasitized a Veery, Catharus fuscescens-a neotropical songbird. Using the flagellin (flaB) gene of the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, and the 18S rRNA gene of the Babesia piroplasm, a malaria-like microorganism, we detected Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Babesia odocoilei, respectively, in an I. scapularis nymph. After the molt, these ticks can bite humans. Furthermore, this is the first-ever documentation of B. odocoilei in a tick parasitizing a bird. Our findings substantiate the fact that migratory songbirds transport neotropical ticks long distances, and import them into Canada during northward spring migration. Health care practitioners need to be aware that migratory songbirds transport pathogen-laden ticks into Canada annually, and pose an unforeseen health risk to Canadians.