We evaluated an artificial capillary feeding method to infect nymphal Ixodes scapularis (Say) ticks with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Thirty to 70% of the nymphs were infected after feeding for 2.5 h from glass capillary tubes filled with a solution of spirochetes. Capillary infection was stable and persisted in the nymphs for at least 10 d after feeding. Capillary feeding also maintained natural vector competence patterns because I. scapularis ticks acquired infection unlike Dermacentor variablis (Say), which did not become infected. Capillary infected I. scapularis nymphs were capable of transmitting the infection to naive mice although not as efficiently as naturally infected nymphs. The capillary infection method is convenient and is a better alternative to syringe inoculation as a means of infecting animals with B. burgdorferi.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2