Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Biology

Advisor

Felicia Keesing

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The hard-bodied tick Ixodes scapularis is the primary vector of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi in eastern North America. The recent identification of B. miyamotoi, a relapsing fever-like spirochete that shares the same hard-tick vector as B. burgdorferi, has led to difficulties in the differential diagnosis of the two diseases. Diagnosis of relapsing fever and Lyme disease are both difficult and rely heavily on distinct geographic incidences. To assess the B. miyamotoi infection frequency of I. scapularis ticks in Dutchess County, NY, a screen of questing adults was conducted for a Borrelia 16s rRNA fragment that differs in sequence between B. burgdorferi and B. miyamotoi. Of the 95 ticks sequenced, 33 (34.7%) bore sequence fragments clearly resembling B. burgdorferi. Eighteen (18.9%) ticks exhibited sequences belonging to a species of Pseudomonad, a common bacterial inhabitant of I. scapularis. No sequences resembling B. miyamotoi were found in this study.

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