Two species of sandflies (Lutzomyia) are competent vectors of Plasmodium mexicanum, a malaria parasite of lizards. The very patchy distribution of sites with high P. mexicanum prevalence in the lizards, and often low or even nil sandfly density at such sites, provoked an evaluation of 2 common lizard ectoparasites, the tick Ixodes pacificus and the mite Geckobiella occidentalis, as potential passive vectors. Plasmodium sp.-specific polymerase chain primers were used to amplify a long segment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene that is unlikely to survive intact if the parasite cells are killed within a blood-feeding arthropod. The segment was strongly amplified from sandflies (the positive control for the method) from 1 to 96 hr postfeeding on an infected lizard. For ticks, the gene fragment was poorly amplified at 0 hr postfeed, and not amplified after 2 hr. In contrast, strong amplification of the parasite DNA was observed from mites from 0 to 20 hr postfeed, and weak amplification even at 96 hr.
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