Competence of Peromyscus maniculatus (Rodentia: Cricetidae) as a reservoir host for Borrelia burgdorferi (Spirochaetares: Spirochaetaceae) in the wild

J Med Entomol. 1993 May;30(3):614-8. doi: 10.1093/jmedent/30.3.614.


Although capable of maintaining and transmitting Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmidt, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner, the causative spirochete of Lyme disease, in the laboratory, the specific ability of deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus Le Conte, to support this zoonosis has not been established. Demonstration that P. maniculatus is a competent reservoir host in the wild would indicate that the spread of Lyme disease is not limited to the range of the primary reservoir host, P. leucopus Rafinesque. Isle au Haut, an offshore Maine island upon which the vector tick Ixodes dammini Spielman, Clifford, Piesman & Corwin has become established, supports an isolated population of mice that are exclusively P. maniculatus. We examined the reservoir competence of this species by comparing infection rates of B. burgdorferi among juvenile ticks removed from livetrapped mice on this island with those removed from P. leucopus obtained at a mainland site endemic for Lyme disease. Equivalent rates of infection among engorged larval ticks, survival of infection through the larval-nymphal molt, and the isolation of B. burgdorferi from mice at both sites attest to the reservoir competence of P. maniculatus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group* / isolation & purification
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Lyme Disease / transmission*
  • Peromyscus / microbiology
  • Peromyscus / parasitology*
  • Ticks / microbiology*
  • Ticks / physiology