Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato Infection in Rodents From Disturbed and Sylvan Assemblages Across Texas
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Lyme disease (LD), caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, affects tens of thousands of Americans each year. Most of the research in the United States (U.S.) is conducted in the northeastern portion of the country. Texas represents an under-studied area with low incidences of annual human infection. Studying the bacterium in an area of low incidence could answer questions about why it has a greater prevalence in other parts of its range. My study investigated tick loads on rodents and Borrelia prevalence in disturbed and sylvan habitats at five sites in Texas across three seasons. At four of the sites investigated, rare and relatively large bodied species that were only captured in sylvan habitats had higher tick loads than the rest of the species collected at the site. B. burgdorferi prevalence was found to vary seasonally, with larger numbers of infected individuals being captured in the fall. Future studies are needed to determine if the results described herein represent a consistent pattern, but this work represents a positive step toward investigating LD in the southern portion of its range.