Epidemic spread of Lyme borreliosis, northeastern United States

Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 Apr;12(4):604-11. doi: 10.3201/eid1204.051016.


We examined the degree of host specialization of different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the tickborne pathogen that causes Lyme borreliosis in the northeastern United States. We first assessed the genetic population structures of B. burgdorferi in ticks obtained from different mammalian host species and in questing ticks sampled in a woodland ecosystem in Connecticut. By comparing the patterns found in our study with data from another cross-sectional study, we demonstrate that B. burgdorferi is a generalist microparasite and conclude that efficient cross-species transmission of B. burgdorferi is a key feature that has allowed the rapid spread of Lyme borreliosis across the northeastern United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology
  • Didelphis / parasitology
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ixodes / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Raccoons / parasitology
  • Rodentia / parasitology
  • Species Specificity