Sunday, January 24, 2010


I mentioned that ticks feed on birds and that birds can be hosts for Lyme disease. Although birds may not be either the preferred host for the ticks nor the most competent host for the ticks they may play a vital role in the story because they are so mobile.

Birds can both carry the ticks with them as they fly and also if the bird is infected with the Lyme bacteria in one location the bird's blood can spread the bacteria to the ticks in a new location

A team led by School of Public Health researcher Maria Diuk-Wasser analyzed studies on 71 bird species that host the black legged tick, the main carrier of Lyme disease. They found that 58.6 percent of the bird species can infect the tick with the bacterium that is responsible for Lyme disease. The literature review was published online in December in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

“Although it has been known for some time that birds play some role in Lyme disease epidemiology, this study integrates all the available information and points at particular bird species that may have a critical role in dispersing the Lyme agent,” Diuk-Wasser said.

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