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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2001 Spring;1(1):65-74.

OspA immunization decreases transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes from infected Peromyscus leucopus mice to larval Ixodes scapularis ticks.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


Recombinant outer surface protein A (OspA) vaccination of wild animal reservoirs has potential application for reducing Borrelia burgdorferi transmission in nature and subsequent risk of human infection. As a major reservoir host, the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is a candidate for a vaccination program designed to reduce infection prevalence in vector ticks. In this study we characterized the effect of various levels of immunization with recombinant OspA-glutathione transferase fusion protein on transmission dynamics from infected P. leucopus to larval ticks. Control mice were vaccinated with glutathione transferase alone. All mice were experimentally infected with B. burgdorferi before vaccination. The immune responses of the immunized mice were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibodies to OspA. Transmission of B. burgdorferi from infected mice was determined by xenodiagnosis with uninfected larval ticks. Spirochetes in ticks were counted by direct immunofluorescence assay. The concentration of antibody to OspA increased with each OspA vaccination but most markedly after the first and second vaccinations. In comparison with control mice, there was reduced transmission by OspA-vaccinated mice to uninfected ticks. One, two, or three doses of OspA reduced infection prevalence in xenodiagnostic ticks by 48%, 92%, or 99% and the numbers of spirochetes per tick by 84%, 98%, or 99%, respectively. This study suggests that vaccination of P. leucopus with OspA could reduce transmission to the tick vector in nature despite prior infection of the reservoir host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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