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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2011 Dec;11(12):1521-7. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2010.0267. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Seabirds and the circulation of Lyme borreliosis bacteria in the North Pacific.

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Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS UMR 5175, Montpellier, France.


Seabirds act as natural reservoirs to Lyme borreliosis spirochetes and may play a significant role in the global circulation of these pathogens. While Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl) has been shown to occur in ticks collected from certain locations in the North Pacific, little is known about interspecific differences in exposure within the seabird communities of this region. We examined the prevalence of anti-Bbsl antibodies in 805 individuals of nine seabird species breeding across the North Pacific. Seroprevalence varied strongly among species and locations. Murres (Uria spp.) showed the highest antibody prevalence and may play a major role in facilitating Bbsl circulation at a worldwide scale. Other species showed little or no signs of exposure, despite being present in multispecific colonies with seropositive birds. Complex dynamics may be operating in this wide scale, natural host-parasite system, possibly mediated by the host immune system and host specialization of the tick vector.

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