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New Study Finds Haemaphysalis longicornis Fails as Experimental Vector of Lyme Disease

Longhorned Tick
                   Photo courtesy of J. Occi

The Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, first detected in New Jersey in 2017, has since been recorded from 88 counties across 12 eastern states. This highly invasive tick is able to reproduce asexually and is considered an important vector of human pathogens in it native range of Asia. Since it’s detection in the US, many questions have been raised about the potential of this tick to transmit pathogens, and to what extent it will feed on humans. In a new experimental study by Breuner et al., vector competence of a population of H. longicornis  ticks originating from New York for a native isolate of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.) was performed. The study found that uninfected H. longicornis larvae could acquire B. burgdorferi s.s. while feeding on infected Mus musculus mice, but that the infection was lost during the molt to the nymphal stage. The study also found that attachment and feeding success was minimal when larvae were placed freely on the fur of mice. The study concluded that H. longicornis is unlikely to contribute more than minimally, if at all, to transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes in the United States.

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Failure of the Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, to serve as an experimental vector of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto.