The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease: a case study from Scotland

Marianne C. James, Robert W. Furness, Alan S. Bowman, Ken J. Forbes, Lucy Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) is the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most common tick-borne zoonosis of humans in Europe and North America. Here, we assessed the relative importance of different passerine bird species as tick hosts and their contribution to the B. burgdorferi s.l. transmission cycle in a rural residential area in Scotland. We caught 1229 birds of 22 species during the tick-questing season. On average, 29% carried larval ticks (0.8 larvae per individual) and 5% carried nymph ticks (0.06 nymphs per individual). All attached ticks tested were Ixodes ricinus. Using a nested-PCR, we found that 20% of nymphs tested positive to B. burgdorferi s.l. and all these were of the genospecies Borrelia garinii. We identified two new bird species carrying infected nymphs: Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus and European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Ground-foraging species were more important than arboreal species in hosting I. ricinus nymphs and B. burgdorferi s.l. Common Blackbirds Turdus merula were the most common hosts, with Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos, Dunnocks Prunella modularis, European Greenfinches and Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs also hosting high rates of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-302
Number of pages10
JournalIbis
Volume153
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Keywords

  • Chaffinch
  • Common Blackbird
  • Fringilla coelebs
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Lyme borreliosis
  • Turdus merula
  • Ixodes ricinus ticks
  • Borne encephalitis-virus
  • Sensu-Lato
  • Migrating birds
  • Infected ticks
  • Genomic groups
  • Europe
  • Prevalence
  • Association
  • Blackbirds

Cite this

The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease : a case study from Scotland. / James, Marianne C.; Furness, Robert W.; Bowman, Alan S.; Forbes, Ken J.; Gilbert, Lucy.

In: Ibis, Vol. 153, No. 2, 04.2011, p. 293-302.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

James, Marianne C. ; Furness, Robert W. ; Bowman, Alan S. ; Forbes, Ken J. ; Gilbert, Lucy. / The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease : a case study from Scotland. In: Ibis. 2011 ; Vol. 153, No. 2. pp. 293-302.
@article{480420c22762490290afa72a6ef4d9bc,
title = "The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease: a case study from Scotland",
abstract = "Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) is the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most common tick-borne zoonosis of humans in Europe and North America. Here, we assessed the relative importance of different passerine bird species as tick hosts and their contribution to the B. burgdorferi s.l. transmission cycle in a rural residential area in Scotland. We caught 1229 birds of 22 species during the tick-questing season. On average, 29{\%} carried larval ticks (0.8 larvae per individual) and 5{\%} carried nymph ticks (0.06 nymphs per individual). All attached ticks tested were Ixodes ricinus. Using a nested-PCR, we found that 20{\%} of nymphs tested positive to B. burgdorferi s.l. and all these were of the genospecies Borrelia garinii. We identified two new bird species carrying infected nymphs: Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus and European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Ground-foraging species were more important than arboreal species in hosting I. ricinus nymphs and B. burgdorferi s.l. Common Blackbirds Turdus merula were the most common hosts, with Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos, Dunnocks Prunella modularis, European Greenfinches and Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs also hosting high rates of infection.",
keywords = "Chaffinch, Common Blackbird, Fringilla coelebs, Ixodes ricinus, Lyme borreliosis, Turdus merula, Ixodes ricinus ticks, Borne encephalitis-virus, Sensu-Lato, Migrating birds, Infected ticks, Genomic groups, Europe, Prevalence, Association, Blackbirds",
author = "James, {Marianne C.} and Furness, {Robert W.} and Bowman, {Alan S.} and Forbes, {Ken J.} and Lucy Gilbert",
year = "2011",
month = "4",
doi = "10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01111.x",
language = "English",
volume = "153",
pages = "293--302",
journal = "Ibis",
issn = "0019-1019",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease

T2 - a case study from Scotland

AU - James, Marianne C.

AU - Furness, Robert W.

AU - Bowman, Alan S.

AU - Forbes, Ken J.

AU - Gilbert, Lucy

PY - 2011/4

Y1 - 2011/4

N2 - Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) is the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most common tick-borne zoonosis of humans in Europe and North America. Here, we assessed the relative importance of different passerine bird species as tick hosts and their contribution to the B. burgdorferi s.l. transmission cycle in a rural residential area in Scotland. We caught 1229 birds of 22 species during the tick-questing season. On average, 29% carried larval ticks (0.8 larvae per individual) and 5% carried nymph ticks (0.06 nymphs per individual). All attached ticks tested were Ixodes ricinus. Using a nested-PCR, we found that 20% of nymphs tested positive to B. burgdorferi s.l. and all these were of the genospecies Borrelia garinii. We identified two new bird species carrying infected nymphs: Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus and European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Ground-foraging species were more important than arboreal species in hosting I. ricinus nymphs and B. burgdorferi s.l. Common Blackbirds Turdus merula were the most common hosts, with Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos, Dunnocks Prunella modularis, European Greenfinches and Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs also hosting high rates of infection.

AB - Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) is the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most common tick-borne zoonosis of humans in Europe and North America. Here, we assessed the relative importance of different passerine bird species as tick hosts and their contribution to the B. burgdorferi s.l. transmission cycle in a rural residential area in Scotland. We caught 1229 birds of 22 species during the tick-questing season. On average, 29% carried larval ticks (0.8 larvae per individual) and 5% carried nymph ticks (0.06 nymphs per individual). All attached ticks tested were Ixodes ricinus. Using a nested-PCR, we found that 20% of nymphs tested positive to B. burgdorferi s.l. and all these were of the genospecies Borrelia garinii. We identified two new bird species carrying infected nymphs: Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus and European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Ground-foraging species were more important than arboreal species in hosting I. ricinus nymphs and B. burgdorferi s.l. Common Blackbirds Turdus merula were the most common hosts, with Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos, Dunnocks Prunella modularis, European Greenfinches and Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs also hosting high rates of infection.

KW - Chaffinch

KW - Common Blackbird

KW - Fringilla coelebs

KW - Ixodes ricinus

KW - Lyme borreliosis

KW - Turdus merula

KW - Ixodes ricinus ticks

KW - Borne encephalitis-virus

KW - Sensu-Lato

KW - Migrating birds

KW - Infected ticks

KW - Genomic groups

KW - Europe

KW - Prevalence

KW - Association

KW - Blackbirds

U2 - 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01111.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01111.x

M3 - Article

VL - 153

SP - 293

EP - 302

JO - Ibis

JF - Ibis

SN - 0019-1019

IS - 2

ER -