Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infecting Ixodes auritulus ticks in Uruguay


In the southern cone of South America different haplotypes of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl) have been detected in Ixodes spp. from Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. So far, Lyme borreliosis has not been diagnosed in Uruguay and the medical relevance of the genus Ixodes in South America is uncertain. However, the growing number of new genospecies of Bbsl in the southern cone region and the scarce information about its pathogenicity, reservoirs and vectors, highlights the importance of further studies about spirochetes present in Uruguay and the region. The aim of this study was to determine the presence of Bbsl in Ixodes auritulus ticks collected from birds and vegetation in two localities of southeastern Uruguay. In total 306 I. auritulus were collected from 392 passerine birds sampled and 1110 ticks were collected by flagging in vegetation. Nymphs and females were analyzed for Borrelia spp. by PCR targeting the flagellin (fla) gene and the rrfA-rrlB intergenic spacer region (IGS). The phylogenetic analysis of Borrelia spp. positive samples from passerine birds and vegetation revealed the presence of four fla haplotypes that form a clade within the Bbsl complex. They were closely related to isolates of Borrelia sp. detected in I. auritulus from Argentina and Canada.

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We would like to thank Dr. Gustavo de Souza, Fernando Dutra (Colonia Don Bosco, Laguna Negra, Rocha) and Ing. Agr. Eduardo Méndez, and Park Rangers Alejandro Rodríguez, Andrés de Mello (Reserva Natural Salus, Lavalleja) for their collaboration during the field work.


We are grateful to Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (Project ANII FMV-2-2011-1-6555) for the financial support to JMV, RC and LM.

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Correspondence to Luis A. Carvalho.

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Carvalho, L.A., Maya, L., Armua-Fernandez, M.T. et al. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infecting Ixodes auritulus ticks in Uruguay. Exp Appl Acarol 80, 109–125 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10493-019-00435-8

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  • Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato
  • Ixodes auritulus
  • Vegetation
  • Birds
  • Uruguay