Academic Commons

Articles

Transplacental transmission of tick-borne Babesia microti in its natural host Peromyscus leucopus

Tufts, Danielle M.; Diuk-Wasser, Maria A.

Background
Babesia microti is an emerging tick-borne pathogen and the causative agent of human babesiosis. Mathematical modeling of the reproductive rate of B. microti indicates that it cannot persist in nature by horizontal tick-host transmission alone. We hypothesized that transplacental transmission in the reservoir population contributes to B. microti persistence and emergence in North American rodent populations.


Methods
Peromyscus leucopus were collected from Connecticut and Block Island, Rhode Island and analyzed using a highly specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for infection with B. microti.


Results
In April, 100% (n = 103) of mice were infected with B. microti. Females exhibited significantly higher parasitemia than their offspring (P < 0.0001) and transplacental transmission was observed in 74.2% of embryos (n = 89). Transplacental transmission of B. microti is thus a viable and potentially important infectious pathway in naturally infected rodent species and should be considered in future theoretical and empirical studies.


Conclusions
To our knowledge, this study is the first to report transplacental transmission of B. microti occurring in its natural reservoir host, P. leucopus, in the United States and the only study that provides a quantitative estimate of parasitemia. This vector-independent pathway could contribute to the increased geographic range of B. microti or increase its abundance in endemic areas.

Files

  • thumnail for 13071_2018_Article_2875.pdf 13071_2018_Article_2875.pdf application/pdf 841 KB Download File

Also Published In

Title
Parasites & Vectors
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-2875-8

More About This Work

Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Published Here
August 20, 2018

Notes

Ixodes scapularis
, Rodent, Babesiosis, Emerging disease, Congenital transmission

Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.