Blacklegged ticks Ixodes scapularis are the primary vector of Lyme disease to humans. But, researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia are focusing on another tick, Ixodes affinis, even though it does not bite people.
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.
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.