A study was conducted in Santa Cruz County to estimate the prevalence and distribution of the agents of Lyme disease, human granulocytic (HGE), and human monocytic (HME) ehrlichiosis in 1,187 adult ixodid ticks collected from eight public-use recreation areas over a 2-yr period. Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, was detected by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 44 of 776 (5.67%) Ixodes pacificus ticks and in 3 of 58 (5.17%) Dermacentor variabilis ticks. Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of HGE, was detected by PCR in 48 (6.19%) I. pacificus ticks and 5 (8.62%) D. variabilis ticks. Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the causative agent of HME, was detected by nested PCR in just five (0.64%) I. pacificus ticks and four (6.9%) D. variabilis ticks. Interestingly, eight (1.03%) I. pacificus ticks were co-infected with B. burgdorferi and A. phagocytophilum, and just one (0.12%) tick was co-infected with B. burgdorferi and E. chaffeensis. Less than 1% of 353 Dermacentor occidentalis ticks showed evidence of infection with any of the agents tested. To our knowledge, this is the first reported identification of A. phagocytophilum and E. chaffeensis in D. occidentalis ticks from California. This study represents the first extensive survey of Lyme and the ehrlichial diseases across multiple areas of Santa Cruz County, and suggests that prevalence of B. burgdorferi in Santa Cruz County may be higher than other areas of the state.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4