To evaluate their relative importance in tick-borne disease transmission in New Jersey, host-seeking Amblyomma americanum (L.) and Ixodes scapularis Say adults and nymphs were collected during spring activity periods in 2003 and 2004 to determine relative frequencies at which these ticks were encountered from an area known to be hyperendemic for Lyme disease. Although similar numbers of the two species were encountered during early spring of both years, A. americanum were encountered more often later in the season and exhibited a longer activity period than I. scapularis. A. americanum nymphs were collected at frequencies between 2.6 and 7.3 times higher than I. scapularis nymphs. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of 121 A. americanum adults yielded infection prevalences of 9.1% for Borrelia lonestari, 12.3% for Ehrlichia chaffeenensis, and 8.2% for E. ewingii, and coinfection prevalences of 4.1% for E. chaffeensis/E. ewingii and 0.8% for E. chaffeensis/B. lonestari. Infection prevalences in 147 I. scapularis adults were 50.3% for B. burgdorferi, 6.1% for Anaplasma (Ehrlichia) phagocytophilum, and 1.4% for a recently described novel Borrelia species, whereas the coinfection prevalences were 2.7% for B. burgdorferi/A. phagocytophilum, 0.7% for B. burgdorferi/novel Borrelia, and 0.7% for A. phagocytophilum/novel Borrelia. The B. burgdorferi infection prevalence in I. scapularis was considerably higher than that in A. americanum. However, the higher A. americanum encounter frequencies compared with I. scapularis may result in increased risk of acquiring exposure to A. americanum-transmitted pathogens. The potential public health implications of these results are discussed.
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