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Lyme-Carrying Ticks Could Be Hitching Rides on Birds


Cara J

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New information about the kinds of ticks that feast on birds could mean an expanded range for Lyme disease. “We were interested in seeing whether these birds, and particularly migratory birds, were capable of transmitting pathogens over large distances,” said Erin Heller, the lead author of a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Researcher Erin Heller holds a pileated woodpecker. Image Credit: Erin L. Heller Heller, who worked on the study while completing her master’s degree at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., caught and banded birds north of Virginia Beach between 2012 and 2014. She and other researchers removed ticks from the birds and sent the ticks to a lab for genetic analysis. They found that while most of the ticks — around 80 percent — that the birds carried were rabbit ticks (Haemaphysalis leporispalustris), a smaller percentage were from another species (Ixodes affinis), which could carry the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. These ticks have been found on some species but previous research had never found the ticks on American robins (Turdus migratorius), northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) and others. Heller said that while these ticks don’t have a taste for human blood, they can infect [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/lyme-carrying-ticks-could-be-hitching-rides-on-birds/

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