Experimental animal infections with Borrelia lonestari, the putative agent of southern tick-associated rash illness
Moyer, Patricia Leigh
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Borrelia lonestari, a putative agent of southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), was first isolated in 2003 from Amblyomma americanum ticks. We used a low passage isolate (LS-1) to inoculate white-tailed deer, mice, cattle, and dogs. Evidence of infection was evaluated via examination of Giemsa and acridine orange stained blood smears, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) test, and/or culture isolation. In each of two deer, spirochetes were visualized stained blood smears, blood was PCR positive up to 19 days post-infection, antibodies were produced, and the organism was re-isolated from blood. Evidence of an active infection was not detected in mice, calves, or dogs. These results show that white-tailed deer are susceptible to infection with B. lonestari and develop a spirochetemia, while mice, calves, and dogs apparently do not. Additional tick transmission studies are needed to evaluate the role of deer as reservoir hosts of B. lonestari.
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