The Graduate School


Ph. D. Biomedical Sciences

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The role that birds play in the maintenance and the movement of ticks and tick-borne pathogens is an important area of research. The home ranges of resident bird species, and the migratory nature of others, can influence vector-borne disease ecology in a region. Of particular interest is the interaction of birds, both resident and migratory, with Ixodes spp. which are the primary vector species of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. This genus has also been associated with the detection of other tick-borne pathogens, including Rickettsia rickettsii. In this study, Ixodes spp. were removed from birds captured at various locations in southeastern Virginia. All ticks were pulverized, and their DNA extracted and tested for Borrelia spp. and Rickettsia spp. The results from this study reveal the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto in Ixodes spp. collected off of resident bird species as well as the discovery of R. parkeri and Candidatus R. mendelii in Ixodes brunneus collected off of resident bird species.



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Role of Avian Hosts in Spread and Maintenance of Borrelia Spp. and Rickettsia Spp. in Ixodes Spp. Collected off Birds in Southeastern Virginia