All Volumes (2001-2008)


Volume II, 2002

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Lyme disease (LD), the most commonly reported arthropod-associated illness in the U.S., is a multi-system tick-borne illness caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. In the eastern U.S. the agent is transmitted by the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapuiaris, and primarily maintained in nature by rodent reservoirs. Although the majority of human cases has been concentrated in the northeastern U.S., hundreds have also been reported in southern states. Some of these cases represent exposures that occurred elsewhere in the country. However, many were from endemic exposures, from which numerous indigenous cases have been confirmed in the Southeast. Putative B. burgdorferi have been isolated from birds, rodents, and ticks in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and other southern states where I. scapularis is widely distributed and established. In spite of these reports, however, some scientists are not convinced that endemic LD occurs in the southern U.S. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the use of the BESS technique for analyzing genetic variability and typing the species or strain of B. burgdorferi infecting rodents and ticks in Florida. It was expected that this technique would be identified as an easy, effective, and relatively inexpensive method for this purpose. Furthermore, it was anticipated that this procedure would become a standard to be used in ongoing and future vector-borne disease research.