Blackbirds Turdus merula as competent reservoirs for Borrelia turdi and Borrelia valaisiana in Portugal: evidence from a xenodiagnostic experiment

Authors

  • Ana C. Norte,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Vector and Infectious Diseases Research, National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
    • Marine and Environmental Research Center IMAR/CMA, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
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  • Isabel Lopes de Carvalho,

    1. Center for Vector and Infectious Diseases Research, National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
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  • Maria S. Núncio,

    1. Center for Vector and Infectious Diseases Research, National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
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  • Jaime A. Ramos,

    1. Marine and Environmental Research Center IMAR/CMA, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
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  • Lise Gern

    1. Laboratory of Eco-Epidemiology of Parasites, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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For correspondence. E-mail acgnorte@ci.uc.pt; Tel. (+351) 239 855771; Fax (+351) 239 855789.

Summary

To confirm that thrushes, such as blackbirds Turdus merula, play a role as reservoir for some Borrelia genospecies, we performed a xenodiagnostic experiment with blackbirds captured in a mixed wood located in Western Portugal where Borrelia turdi, an uncommon genospecies in Europe, was the most prevalent genospecies associated with birds. Two out of five birds harboured B. turdi infected Ixodes frontalis at the time of capture. Four out of five birds transmitted spirochaetes to Ixodes ricinus xenodiagnostic ticks: two birds transmitted Borrelia valaisiana to 25.7% and 10.5% of ticks, and two transmitted B. turdi to 6.4% and 5.4% of ticks. Our results showed that blackbirds transmit B. valaisiana and B. turdi to I. ricinus feeding larvae, acting as reservoir hosts for these genospecies in nature.

Ancillary