Blood fed nymphal Ixodes scapularis Say infected with Borrelia burgdorferi were dissected to obtain salivary gland and midgut extracts. Extracts were inoculated into C3H/HeJ mice, and ear, heart, and bladder were cultured to determine comparative infectivity. Aliquots of extracts were then analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction to determine the number of spirochetes inoculated into mice. A comparative median infectious dose (ID50) was determined for both salivary gland and midgut extract inoculations. Our data demonstrated a statistically significant difference (P < 0.002) in the ID50 derived from salivary gland (average = 18) versus midgut (average = 251) extracts needed to infect susceptible mice. A rationale for the differential infectivity of salivary and midgut derived spirochetes is discussed.
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