Adult Ixodes dammini on rabbits: a hypothesis for the development and transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi

J Infect Dis. 1987 Jun;155(6):1300-6. doi: 10.1093/infdis/155.6.1300.


A histological study of unfed Ixodes dammini adults has shown that the Lyme disease spirochete can be found in the midgut diverticula of these ticks and is presumably carried over from the nymphal stage. Sequential histology of the early stages of ticks feeding on a rabbit showed that spirochetes began to divide and were located in close proximity or attached to the epithelial cells of the diverticulae. Evidence for division was obtained by the higher number of spirochetes per tick after a three-day feeding period than in the unfed females. Although the mechanism is unclear, some spirochetes become systemic by the fifth day of feeding and can be detected in low numbers in other tick organs. Spirochetes were also noted in the feeding cavities created by I. dammini in the dermis after five days of attachment. Spirochetes were not detected in salivary glands or in the feces of I. dammini during the feeding period.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors / microbiology*
  • Arachnid Vectors / physiology
  • Borrelia / growth & development*
  • Borrelia / isolation & purification
  • Digestive System / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Lyme Disease / transmission*
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Salivary Glands / microbiology
  • Ticks / microbiology*
  • Ticks / physiology