Distribution of Borrelia lonestari and Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies in white-tailed deer populations in the eastern United States
Murdock, Jessica Helen
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Little is understood about a Lyme-like syndrome, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), which occurs in the southeastern United States. Borrelia lonestari, a possible agent of STARI, is transmitted by the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and naturally infects white-tailed deer (WTD, Odocoileus virginianus). I tested 714 WTD from 20 eastern states for antibodies reactive to B. lonestari using an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test, 107 (15.0%) were seropositive. Significantly more southeastern deer (17.5%) were positive compared to northeastern deer (9.2%). Using a SNAP® test, 71 (9.9%) were positive for Borrelia burgdorferi and significantly more northeastern deer (23.9%) were positive compared with southeastern deer (3.8%). My data demonstrate that WTD are exposed to both Borrelia species, but antibody prevalence for the two species differs regionally and distributions correlate with the presence of I. scapularis and A. americanum ticks. Age and gender do not affect prevalence.