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Monday, August 22, 2011

[AlternativeAnswers] Introduced Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus barberi) harbour more diverse B


Introduced Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus barberi) harbour more
diverse Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies than native bank
voles (Myodes glareolus).

Marsot M, Sigaud M, Chapuis J, Ferquel E, Cornet M, Vourc'h G

Appl Environ Microbiol 2011 06 24

Little attention has been given in scientific literature to how
introduced species may act as a new host for native infectious agents
and modify the epidemiology of a disease. In this study, we investigated
whether an introduced species, the Siberian chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus
barberi), was a potentially new reservoir host for Borrelia burgdorferi
sensu lato (sl), causative agents of Lyme disease. First, we ascertained
whether chipmunks were infected by all of the B. burgdorferi sl
genospecies associated with rodents and available in their source of
infection, questing nymphs. Second, we determined whether the prevalence
and diversity of B. burgdorferi sl in chipmunks was similar to that of a
native reservoir rodent, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus).
Our research took place between 2006 and 2008 in a suburban French
forest, where we trapped 335 chipmunks and 671 voles, and collected 743
nymphs of ticks that are questing for hosts by dragging on the
vegetation. We assayed fo r B. burgdorferi sensu lato in ear biopsies
taken from the rodents and in nymphs using PCR and RFLP. Chipmunks were
infected by the three genospecies that were present in questing nymphs
and that infect rodents (B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. afzelii, and
B. garinii). In contrast, voles hosted only B. afzelii. Furthermore,
chipmunks were more infected (35%) than voles (16%). These results may
be explained by the higher exposure of chipmunks, because they harbour
more ticks, or by their higher tolerance to other B. burgdorferi sl
genospecies than B. afzelii. If chipmunks are competent reservoir hosts
for B. burgdorferi sl, they may spillback B. burgdorferi sl to native
communities and eventually may increase the risk of Lyme disease
transmission to humans.

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