Abstract

The etiological agents responsible for Lyme disease ( Borrelia burgdorferi ), human granulocytic anaplasmosis ( Anaplasma phagocytophilum ), and babesiosis ( Babesia microti ) are primarily transmitted by the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say. Despite Pennsylvania having in recent years reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the United States, relatively little is known regarding the geographic distribution of the vector and its pathogens in the state. Previous attempts at climate-based predictive modeling of I. scapularis occurrence have not coincided with the high human incidence rates in parts of the state. To elucidate the distribution and pathogen infection rates of I. scapularis , we collected and tested 1,855 adult ticks statewide from 2012 to 2014. The presence of I. scapularis and B. burgdorferi was confirmed from all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Analyses were performed on 1,363 ticks collected in the fall of 2013 to avoid temporal bias across years. Infection rates were highest for B. burgdorferi (47.4%), followed by Ba. microti (3.5%) and A. phagocytophilum (3.3%). Coinfections included B. burgdorferi  +  Ba. microti (2.0%), B. burgdorferi  +  A. phagocytophilum (1.5%) and one tick positive for A. phagocytophilum  +  Ba. microti. Infection rates for B. burgdorferi were lower in the western region of the state. Our findings substantiate that Lyme disease risk is high throughout Pennsylvania.

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