Birds are actually proven as the most known to carry Lyme disease and most likely to easily spread it in California than previously thought.
The University of California, Berkeley reports that a recent study reveals birds as the main host of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi , which is accountable for the Lyme disease . Lyme disease is mainly transmitted to humans through bites from infected ticks of birds.
“The role of birds in the maintenance of Lyme disease bacteria in California is poorly understood,” said study lead author Erica Newman, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in the Energy and Resources Group and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. She further said “This is the most extensive study of the role of birds in Lyme disease ecology in the western United States, and the first to consider the diversity of bird species, their behaviors and their habitats in identifying which birds are truly the most important as carriers.”
There are certain birds that were identified to carry the disease based on the study which included American robins, dark-eyed juncos and golden-crowned sparrows. These birds are mostly found in suburban areas where a great population exists.
“Birds are much more capable of carrying diseases long distances than the small-mammal hosts typical of Lyme disease, and so may constitute an under appreciated component of Lyme disease ecology,” said an ornithologist Morgan Tingley , who was not included of this UC Berkeley-led study.
“Particularly as we look to the future, birds may end up playing a larger role in disease ecology than other animals because of their ability to quickly and easily move long distances and to new habitats. In the same way that airplanes can help spread disease across nations, birds do the same thing for our ecosystems.”
Researchers gathered more data to come up with their findings as they examined on bird and tick samples which were captured from four sites within the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center in northwestern California. It turned out that Lyme disease spirohetes were found in 57 birds out of the 100 birds that carried ticks.
“Another species of Lyme disease spirochete closely related to, but distinct from, Borrelia burgdorferi was detected in birds for the first time anywhere in the world,” said a medical entomologist and UC Berkeley Professor of the Graduate School study co-author Robert Lane, a leading expert on ticks and Lyme disease.