In their paper published in the Journal of Medical Entomology
, Erin Heller and co-authors documented new records of Ixodes affinis
parasitizing avian hosts in southeastern Virginia. They observed that Ixodes affinis
parasitized five songbird species on which it had not previously been recorded. This is important because birds are able to travel long distances, and bring tick hitchhikers with them.
‘In order to understand the spread of Lyme disease, it is important to consider the ecology of all of its various hosts and vectors. Various feathered ticks might be playing a significant part in the story of this potentially debilitating disease.’
As the range of Ixodes affinis
expands northwards and overlaps more with that of the human-biting blacklegged tick, the authors predict that having two competent tick vectors may increase transmission of the pathogen throughout the system and lead to an increase in the number of Lyme disease cases in humans.
This study adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates that in order to understand the spread of Lyme disease, researchers must consider the ecology of all of its various hosts and vectors. Ixodes affinis
and its various feathered hosts may prove to play a significant part in the story of this potentially debilitating disease.