Presentation Abstract

Session: Ectoparasite-Borne Diseases
Abstract Number: 61
Title: Borrelia burgdorferi coinfection enhances Babesia microti infection in white-footed mice and transmission to Ixodes scapularis ticks
Presentation Start: 11/12/2012 11:45:00 AM
Authors: Peter J. Krause1, Lindsay Rollend1, Maria Diuk-Wasser1, Linda K. Bockenstedt2, Edouard Vannier3, Alexia A. Belperron2, Steven J. Bent1, Natasha Lloyd1, Durland Fish1
1Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States, 2Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States, 3Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States
Abstract: Babesia microti and Borrelia burgdorferi, the primary agents of human babesiosis and Lyme disease, are both transmitted by Ixodes scapularis ticks to white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and to humans. To determine whether co-infection increases intensity of infection in P. leucopus or transmission to feeding ticks, we infested Peromyscus leucopus mice with nymphal I. scapularis ticks infected with either B. microti or B. burgdorferi alone, or coinfected with both simultaneously or sequentially. We then assessed intensity of infection in mice and the transmission of B. microti and B. burgdorferi infection to ticks at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 weeks after mouse infection. Mice were infested with infected nymphal ticks and intensity of infection measured by B. microti parasitemia in blood and B. burgdorferi DNA in bladder, heart, and joint tissue. Transmission of infection to ticks was assessed by placing uninfected larval ticks on the same infected mice and assaying for both pathogens in ticks after they fed and molted to the nymphal stage. We found that B. microti parasitemia was greater in B. microti/B. burgdorferi-coinfected mice than mice infected with B. microti alone. The percentage of ticks that became infected with B. microti was greater in those fed on coinfected mice compared to those fed on mice infected with B. microti alone. In contrast, coinfection did not uniformly increase B. burgdorferi tissue burden or transmission to ticks. We conclude that B. microti/B. burgdorferi coinfection increases B. microti parasitemia and transmission to larval ticks in the natural mouse reservoir host. These findings suggest that the presence of B. burgdorferi infection may increase the incidence of human babesiosis in endemic areas and may be a prerequisite for B. microti enzootic or endemic establishment in selected regions.

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