Transmission of the Lyme Disease Spirochete Borrelia mayonii in Relation to Duration of Attachment by Nymphal Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae)
Marc C. Dolan Nicole E. Breuner Andrias Hojgaard Karen A. Boegler J. Charles Hoxmeier Adam J. Replogle Lars Eisen
J Med Entomol
Published: 05 July 2017

The recently recognized Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia mayonii, has been detected in host-seeking Ixodes scapularis Say ticks and is associated with human disease in the Upper Midwest. Although experimentally shown to be vector competent, studies have been lacking to determine the duration of time from attachment of a single B. mayonii-infected I. scapularis nymph to transmission of spirochetes to a host. If B. mayonii spirochetes were found to be transmitted within the first 24 h after tick attachment, in contrast to Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes (>24 h), then current recommendations for tick checks and prompt tick removal as a way to prevent transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes would need to be amended. We therefore conducted a study to determine the probability of transmission of B. mayonii spirochetes from single infected nymphal I. scapularis ticks to susceptible experimental mouse hosts at three time points postattachment (24, 48, and 72 h) and for a complete feed (>72–96 h). No evidence of infection with or exposure to B. mayonii occurred in mice that were fed upon by a single infected nymph for 24 or 48 h. The probability of transmission by a single infected nymphal tick was 31% after 72 h of attachment and 57% for a complete feed. In addition, due to unintended simultaneous feeding upon some mice by two B. mayonii-infected nymphs, we recorded a single occasion in which feeding for 48 h by two infected nymphs resulted in transmission and viable infection in the mouse. We conclude that the duration of attachment of a single infected nymphal I. scapularis tick required for transmission of B. mayonii appears to be similar to that for B. burgdorferi: transmission is minimal for the first 24 h of attachment, rare up to 48 h, but then increases distinctly by 72 h postattachment.


We report here that transmission of B. mayonii appears to be associated with presence of spirochetes in the saliva of the feeding tick (Table 4). Although this finding is not surprising, it provides evidence to support the salivary route of transmission for this Lyme disease spirochete, similar to transmission of B. burgdorferi (Ribeiro et al. 1987, Ewing et al. 1994). Additional studies are needed to explore the dynamics of how B. mayonii spirochetes, as well as B. burgdorferi and the relapsing fever group spirochete Borrelia miyamotoi, disseminate within I. scapularis ticks and multiply within the salivary glands during attachment, resulting in subsequent passage to mammalian hosts via the saliva of a feeding tick.


Transmission Time research, similarly to geographical maps of tick populations, has been used against patients for decades.  Please read all transmission time studies with healthy skepticism, realizing many patients have become infected in under the oft quoted 24-72 hours.  Thankfully, the CDC is now telling doctors to treat patients empirically, without waiting for test results, if they suspect tick borne illness.   Bob Giguere of IGeneX states a case of a little girl who went outside to play about 8:30a.m. and came inside at 10:30 with an attached tick above her right eye. By 2 o’clock, she had developed the facial palsy. At the hospital she was told it couldn’t be Lyme as the tick hadn’t been attached long enough. They offered a neuro-consult…..(not treatment)

This story plays out again and again with doctors not believing patients, often times even refusing to test them, and send theming packing when they have a serious infection(s) that will fester for years until a correct diagnosis is made. 

By then there can be irreversible damage.