January 27, 2010
January 27 - Borrelia burgdorferi
Blame Borrelia burgdorferi for one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the United States: Lyme disease. Discovered in 1982 by NIAID zoologist Willy Burgdorfer, this species belongs to a phylum of corkscrew-shaped bacteria known as spirochetes. Spirochetes are quite at home in the guts of humans and other mammals, bivalves, and insects. In the United States, black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) ingest Borrelia burgdorferi from an infected animal during a blood meal. When the ticks bite other suitable hosts, they pass along the spirochete through their saliva.
Learn more about wildlife hosts of B. burgdorferi in this new Science Bulletins video from the American Museum of Natural History. A second video highlights new imaging techniques that can detect B. burgdorferi's influences on the human brain.
Contributed by Laura Allen at Science Bulletins, AMNH
Image by Jeffrey Nelson, North Park University