Avatar universal

Birds gotta fly---- and they drop ticks everywhere in the world

These are just a very few of the many articles I've collected about ticks and migratory birds and Borrelia sl

Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
First Record of Lyme Disease Borrelia in the Arctic

Christer Larsson, Par Comstedt, Bjorn Olsen, Sven Bergstrom. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

The epidemiology and ecology of Lyme disease is very complex, and its reported geographical distribution is constantly increasing. Furthermore, the involvement of birds in long distance dispersal and their role as reservoir hosts is now well established. In this study, we have shown that sea birds in the Arctic region of Norway carry Ixodes uriae ticks infected with Lyme disease Borrelia garinii spirochetes. Interestingly, DNA sequencing showed that these isolates are closely related to B. garinii previously isolated from birds, as well as from clinical specimens in northern Europe.


The above url also gives links to many other articles about birds and tick-borne disease.

Global ecology and epidemiology of Borrelia garinii spirochetes
Pär Comstedt, Tobias Jakobsson, Sven Bergström


Lyme borreliosis (LB) is a tick-transmitted infectious disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s. l.). In Europe, three different Borreliaspecies are the main causative agents of LB: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.), Borrelia afzelii, and Borrelia garinii. The latter depends heavily on birds as its main reservoir hosts. In fact, birds can act both as biological carriers of Borrelia and transporters of infected ticks.

The seasonal migration of many bird species not only aid in the spread of B. garinii to new foci but also influence the high level of diversity found within this species. B. gariniihave been isolated not only from terrestrial birds in Europe, but also from seabirds worldwide, and homology between isolates in these two different infection cycles suggests an overlap and exchange of strains. In addition, it has been shown that birds can maintain and spread B. garinii genotypes associated with LB in humans.

This review article discusses the importance of birds in the ecology and epidemiology of B. garinii spirochetes.

Keywords: Borrelia garinii; Lyme borreliosis; birds; reservoir hosts; ticks; Ixodes uriae; Ixodes

(Published: 28 October 2011)

Citation: Infection Ecology and Epidemiology 2011, 1: 9545 - DOI: 10.3402/iee.v1i0.9545


Abstract. Over one thousand hungry Ixodes persulcatus adults collected by flagging and in 110 pools
of Ixodes ricinus nymphs and larvae obtained from 1,606 migratory passerine birds have been investigated.
Ixodes persulcatus were screened using PCR techniques for seven pathogens: tick-borne encephalitis
virus, three Borrelia species, two Ehrlichia species, and Babesia sp., while I. ricinus for three first
groups only. Prevalence of infection of I. persulcatus was 32.5%; 37.6% of all infections were multiple.
Ticks infected by Borrelia burgdorferi s.s., and Babesia microti were recorded only in combination.

Human monocytic ehrlichiosis agent (Ehrlichia muris) was encountered in mixed infections in
74.2%. Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent (Anaplasma phagocytophila) was detected mainly with
borreliae. Singletons of Ixodes ricinus were multiinfected in 18%, whereas nymphs and larvae collected
in pools in 42%. Triple infections were common.

Knowledge of multiinfection in vectors is very
important for ecologists, parasitologists, and first of all, general practitioners.
Key words: Ixodes ticks, multiinfection, tick-borne encephalitis virus, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Borrelia


7 Responses
Avatar universal
Very interesting.  This puts the lie to the IDSA position that Lyme exists ONLY in the northeast US and a small area of California, I suppose on the theory that the ticks' little legs can't carry them very far.  Wrong!
Avatar universal
That's not the ONLY lie the IDSA has told us!

More birds:

A Lyme borreliosis cycle in seabirds and Ixodes uriae ticks


*Department of Microbiology, and t Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Umeå, S-90187 Umeå, Sweden
‡Department of Zoology, University of Uppsala, Box 561, S-75122 Uppsala, Sweden
§To whom correspondence should be addressed

THE Lyme disease spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. , is the only Borrelia known to infect both mammals and birds1. The main vertebrate reservoirs of B. burgdorferi are thought to be various small and intermediate size mammals2, but the importance of birds as a reservoir has not been thoroughly explored.

In the Northern and Southern Hemispheres the seabird tick, Ixodes uriae, is prevalent and closely associated with many species of colony-nesting marine birds3.

Here we report the presence of spirochaetes, demonstrated by immunofluorescent assay, by polymerase chain reaction and in culture, in I. uriae infesting razorbills on an island in the Baltic Sea. This island is free from mammals.

The protein profile of the spirochaetes and the sequences of their flagellin and ospA genes are identical to those of the Lyme disease spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. , previously isolated from I. ricinus on a nearby island. In biopsies from the foot web of razorbills, B. burgdorferi-specific DNA was detected after amplification by polymerase chain reaction.

Our results suggest that birds play an important part in the maintenance of B. burgdorferi and that mammals may not be a prerequisite for its life cycle.


(Mar 1993)
Avatar universal
very interesting.  hmmmm
Avatar universal
I saw a write up on a study from a couple years ago where researchers went out to some small, uninhabited bird nesting islands off the coast of Novia Scotia to collect ticks.  They found Borellia Garinii infected Ixodes Uriae ticks in the nests of sea birds who travel from Europe.

How long do you think before it makes it to the mainland?? Or maybe it already had.  B. Garinii is far more likely to cause neuro Lyme and to test false negative on the CDC protocol, so I pity the poor folks who are the first ones to get it in N. America.

In Australia the belief is that Borrelia arrived there via ticks attached to sea birds. Since the presentation of symptoms is much closer to a European than a North American presentation, the belief is that the infected ticks came from Europe.  They've so far proven local acquisition of B.Burgdorferi, B.Garinii, and B.Bavariensis.  All three come from Europe, although B.Burgdorferi also occurs in North America.  The unique Australian tick carrier has probably resulted in their own unique variations of the diseases, too.

Unluckily for me, the ticks seem to have brought a nasty form of Babesia as well as Bartonella along with them.  Interesting how the IDSA says having three tick borne infections is highly unlikely, and yet the study mentioned above says "Triple infections are common."  So much for "rare."
Avatar universal
@ rico,

It's so obvious it's almost (almost!) laughable.

1. Ticks are on birds
2. Some ticks are capable of infecting humans
3. Birds fly.

Ticks don't walk across State/Country borders. Imagine those eight little legs pumping away furiously from CT to other states. LOL
Avatar universal
Yes, it is laughable, but it's also consistent with the IDSA and CDC's approach of ignoring anything and everything that doesn't fit into their itty bitty box.  A Canadian researcher found a percentage of infected ticks on migratory songbirds in Canada, and yet some health officials there continue to insist there's no Lyme in Canada.

In Australia, the two most likely places I picked up my tick are a wildlife sanctuary (where other people have gotten Lyme and Babesia, too), or the beach at Manly.  Many Aussie Lyme patients report tick bites that triggered their illnesses while on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, which includes Manly. I walked out on the beach for just a few minutes while my travelling companion waited back on the sidewalk. I shudder to think I picked it up there, just because I wanted to feel the sand on my feet for a few minutes.

Here in the U.S., most people get Lyme while walking through the woods or grassy or bushy areas.  The only reason I can think that so many Aussies get it from a trip to the beach is that the ticks were dropped there by visiting sea birds. All a tick has to do is burrow down in to the damp sand and hang out to wait for all the sun worshippers to show up to provide the next meal.  

(Note: People get Lyme in the bush there, too. But the ecology of Lyme in their unique birds and animals is not understood as the government has never gone looking for it.  They "decided" in '94 that there was no Lyme in the country after a big tick survey failed to find it. Disagreeing doctors immediately criticized the methodology, but the conclusion became official policy and patients have been denied the diagnoses ever since. They're just now taking a real look at the situation after some heavily publicized deaths and protests in recent years.)

Very little if any of what the IDSA says about Lyme Disease is transferrable to Australia, including exposure. It just goes to show how much of what the IDSA Lyme committee says is dominated by assumptions and narrowly focused opinions.

I am very unhappy that we have exported our nation's stupidity over Lyme Disease to other countries.  Of course it's also disappointing that other countries so willingly imported it.
Avatar universal
Dr. Robert S. Lane is a 'person of interest' (UC Berkeley entomologist) for reading about ticks/Lyme in CA but the cautions don't just apply to CA.

"Where to beware
Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees, and it’s not hiking that’s the problem per se. Rather, entering tick habitats is what puts you at risk for becoming tick bait. Contact with wood is the most dangerous spot to be in.

Lane has seen the greatest amount of young ticks in oak and Douglas fir woodlands, living in leaf litter and crawling on logs.

******A behavioral study conducted by Lane proved that sitting on logs is the riskiest behavior when it comes to ticks during this time of year.*****

A transitional area from one type of habitat to another, such as the conjunction of woodland and grasslands, also holds high populations of young ticks, Lane said.

Beware especially when clearing brush along a forests edge, such as during trail maintenance projects. Hilly areas, such as the coast ranges, can host a higher abundance of ticks."

An interesting tidbit about Lane is when he was testing the efficacy of all the precautions he and other talk about--- tucking socks in etc.----- he admitted, privately, that after doing all the necessary things: light clothing, tick spray, tick checks after getting home and then taking a shower----- he found a tick embedded on his body later!!!! (Of course he had access to abx so gulped some down)

I can't find any reference to that now---- so I think it was 'disappeared' in the interest of not confusing the public. :) Which was a good idea for it might give people the idea that nothing works, which is wrong. People SHOULD still take all the precautions and it does work most of the time.

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