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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2007 Spring;7(1):42-9.

Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in lizards from Southern Maryland.

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Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Division of Entomology, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA.


Lizards serve as hosts for Ixodes ticks in the western and southeastern United States and may affect the transmission cycles of Borrelia burgdorferi in these regions. In Maryland, the role of lizards in the maintenance and transmission cycle of this pathogen has not been examined. We tested 29 lizards (Sceloporus undulatus and Eumeces spp.) and 21 ticks from these lizards for the presence of B. burgdorferi. Eight lizards were positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for at least one B. burgdorferi-specific marker. This is the first report of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto detected in lizards in the mid-Atlantic region. Although the viability of the B. burgdorferi in these lizards was unconfirmed, recovery of bacterial DNA in a tail snip suggests that the infections in these lizards were disseminated. This study suggests that some lizards indigenous to the mid-Atlantic region may serve as alternative reservoirs for B. burgdorferi. In areas where lizard densities are high, these less efficient reservoirs may affect the enzootic cycle of this tick-borne pathogen.

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