Scott et al., 2018, Canada-wide tick-host-pathogen study, Bbsl

Healthcare 2018, 6, 131; doi:10.3390/healthcare6040131

John D. Scott, Kerry L. Clark, Janet E. Foley, John F. Anderson, Bradley C. Bierman, and Lance A. Durden


Lyme disease, caused by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl), is typically transmitted by hard-bodied ticks (Acari: Ixodidae).  Whenever this tick-borne zoonosis is mentioned in medical clinics and emergency rooms, it sparks a firestorm of controversy.  Denial often sets  in, and healthcare practitioners dismiss the fact that this pathogenic spirochetosis is present in their area.  For distribution of Bbsl across Canada, we conducted a 4-year, tick-host study (2013-2016), and collected ticks from avian and mammalian hosts from Atlantic Canada to the West Coast.  Overall, 1,265 ticks consisting of 27 tick species belonging to four genera were collected.  Of the 18 tick species tested, 15 species (83%) were positive for Bbsl and, of these infected ticks, 6 species bite humans.  Overall, 13 of the 18 tick species tested are human-biting ticks.  Our data suggest that a 6-tick, enzootic maintenance cycle of Bbsl is present in southwestern B.C., and five of these tick species bite humans.  Biogeographically, the groundhog tick, Ixodes cookei, has extended its home range from central and eastern Canada to southwestern British Columbia (B.C.).  We posit that the Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca  is a reservoir-competent host for Bbsl.  The Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea, and the Tennessee Warbler, Vermivora peregrina, are new host records for the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis.  We provide the first report of a Bbsl-positive Amblyomma longirostre larva parasitizing a bird; this bird parasitism suggests that a Willow Flycatcher is a competent reservoir of Bbsl.  Our findings show that Bbsl is present in all provinces, and that multiple tick species are implicated in the enzootic maintenance cycle of this pathogen.  Ultimately, Bbsl poses a serious public health contagion Canada-wise.



This study highlights the fact that it’s not just the blacklegged tick transmitting pathogens.

Six tick species capable of transmitting to humans have been found in Canada.

Two ticks species known to be transmitters of disease (I. affinis and I. minor) were transported into Canada and are actually more important vectors of Bbsl in the southeastern U.S. than the blacklegged tick.

These findings underscore the fact people do not have to go an endemic area to contract Lyme disease and associated tick-borne diseases. 

Amblyomma longirostre ticks are typically in countries of South, Central and North America.  The fact one was  found in Canada is quite telling.  The fact it was infected with Borrelia burgdorferi – even more telling.  They’re known to transmit Rickettsia.  The larvae are found on birds, while nymphs are reported as parasitizing songbirds and mammals. The adult stages are typically found on mammals such as rodents.

This study supports the fact that birds are the major transporters of ticks, and that mice aren’t the largest concern in tick propagation:

The 13 ticks in Canada found to be able to potentially infect humans are:

  1. Amblyomma longirostre*
  2. Dermacentor albipictus*
  3. Haemaphysalis leporispalustris*
  4. Ixodes affinis* 
  5. Ixodes angustus
  6. Ixodes banksi*
  7. Ixodes brunneus* 
  8. Ixodes cookei
  9. Ixodes muris
  10. Ixodes pacificus
  11. Ixodes spinipalpis 
  12. Ixodes scapularis
  13. Ixodes texanus*

Of note:  previously Ixodes dentatus were positive for Bbsl (Scott et al, 2012).  In addition, Ixodes urrae can transmit Bbsl to humans as well.

*rarely transmits to humans

The four year study found a number of new bird hosts of importance as well.  

In sum:

  1. Birds are transiting ticks worldwide, with the exception of the arctic and antarctic.  This study blows holes in the climate change theory, as does this study:
  2. Throw the maps away.  Maps have been used against patients for decades.
  3. Numerous species of ticks are transmitting diseases.  There’s no such thing as a “good tick.”
  4. Ticks are nature’s dirty syringes with the capability of infecting humans with numerous pathogens.  The following link is another study that corroborates this:  For the first time, Garg et al. show a 85% probability for multiple infections including not only tick-borne pathogens but also opportunistic microbes such as EBV and other viruses.  Yet, 83% of all commercial tests focus only on Lyme (borrelia).
  5. Bbsl is present in ALL Canadian provinces.  
  6. Tick-borne illness is a crisis.
  7.  Doctors desperately need tick-borne illness education:, and

The denial of Lyme/MSIDS must end.  The data keeps pouring in and it’s not going to get better with time.  Patients have been ill for decades but denied medical treatment.  Many have needlessly died.  Stop the madness.  Do your part by spreading the correct information in your sphere of influence.  

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