All Volumes (2001-2008)


Volume III, 2003

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The infection prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiological agent of Lyme disease, was estimated among small mammals and ticks at two sites in northern Florida using molecular methods. Analysis of the B. burgdorferi flagellin gene in samples extracted from the ticks and small mammals was used to construct a phylogenetic tree. The phylogenetic tree was used to compare partial flagellin gene sequences of the Borrelia strains from Florida with reference Borrelia strains. The infection prevalences of small mammals at the University of North Florida and Guana River State Park were 90% and 47%, respectively, with 6 of 7 small mammal species testing positive. Forty-two adult Ixodes scapularis ticks were also tested at each site: 20/42 tested positive at UNF (48 %) and 5/42 tested positive at Guana River (12 %). The neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree showed that the Florida Borrelia strains were 98-99% genetically similar to reference strains of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (confirmed Lyme disease agent) and B. bissettii (pathogenicity undetermined). The findings confirm the presence of specific Borrelia species in northern Florida; however, their relationship to human Lyme disease in Florida is the subject of ongoing studies.