Reported County-Level Distribution of Lyme Disease Spirochetes, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia mayonii (Spirochaetales: Spirochaetaceae), in Host-Seeking Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in the Contiguous United States

J Med Entomol. 2021 May 15;58(3):1219-1233. doi: 10.1093/jme/tjaa283.


Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. While Lyme disease vectors are widespread, high incidence states are concentrated in the Northeast, North Central and Mid-Atlantic regions. Mapping the distribution of Lyme disease spirochetes in ticks may aid in providing data-driven explanations of epidemiological trends and recommendations for targeting prevention strategies to communities at risk. We compiled data from the literature, publicly available tickborne pathogen surveillance databases, and internal CDC pathogen testing databases to map the county-level distribution of Lyme disease spirochetes reported in host-seeking Ixodes pacificus and Ixodes scapularis across the contiguous United States. We report B. burgdorferi s.s.-infected I. scapularis from 384 counties spanning 26 eastern states located primarily in the North Central, Northeastern, and Mid-Atlantic regions, and in I. pacificus from 20 counties spanning 2 western states, with most records reported from northern and north-coastal California. Borrelia mayonii was reported in I. scapularis in 10 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the North Central United States, where records of B. burgdorferi s.s. were also reported. In comparison to a broad distribution of vector ticks, the resulting map shows a more limited distribution of Lyme disease spirochetes.

Keywords: acarological risk; host-seeking tick; pathogen distribution; tickborne disease; tickborne surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors / microbiology*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification*
  • Ixodes / microbiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Spirochaetales / isolation & purification*
  • United States

Supplementary concepts

  • Borrelia mayonii