In North Carolina, reported human cases of tick-borne illness, specifically Rocky Mountain spotted fever, have escalated over the past decade. To determine the relative abundance of vectors and to estimate the risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness in peri-residential landscapes, ticks were collected in Chatham County, a typical Piedmont county and, samples of the ticks were tested for infection with selected bacterial pathogens using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays. Ticks (n?=?3746) were collected by flagging vegetation at 26 sites from April to July 2006. The predominant questing tick was Amblyomma americanum (98.5%) with significantly fewer Dermacentor variabilis (1.0%) and Ixodes scapularis (0.5%) collected. Spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae were detected in 68.2% of 1590 A. americanum with 56.4% of the molecular isolates identified as Rickettsia amblyommii, an informally named member of the SFG rickettsiae. Comparatively, smaller numbers of A. americanum contained Ehrlichia chaffeensis (1.8%) and Borrelia lonestari (0.4%). Of 15 I. scapularis nymphs tested, 6 (40%) were positive for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Seven (19.4%) of 36 adult D. variabilis tested positive for Rickettsia montanensis, 4 (11.1%) were positive for R. amblyommii, and 5 (13.9%) were infected with unidentified species of SFG rickettsiae. The tick population in Chatham County contains a diverse array of microbes, some of which are known or potential pathogens. Highest attack rates would be expected from A. americanum ticks, and highest potential risk of infection with a tick-transmitted agent would be to rickettsial organisms, particularly R. amblyommii. Accordingly, longitudinal eco-epidemiology investigations are needed to determine the public health importance of A. americanum infected with rickettsial organisms.
Attraction of the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus to plant infusions was evaluated by using a modified sticky-screen bioassay that improved the resolution of mosquito responses to odorants. Under bioassay conditions, solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatographic analyses of the volatile marker chemical indole showed that odorants diffused from bioassay cups, forming a concentration gradient. Infusions were prepared by separately fermenting senescent leaves of eight plant species in well water. Plant infusions were evaluated over an 8-fold range of leaf biomass and/or a 28 d fermentation period. The responses of gravid females of both mosquito species varied with the plant species and biomass of plant materials used to make infusions, and with the length of the fermentation period. Infusions made from senescent bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea) and white oak (Quercus alba) leaves were significantly attractive to both mosquitoes. In general, infusions prepared by using low biomass of plant material over a 7-14 d fermentation period were most attractive to Ae. aegypti. In contrast, Ae. albopictus was attracted to infusions made using a wider range of plant biomass and over a longer fermentation period. Both mosquito species were more attracted to a non-sterile white oak leaf infusion than to white oak leaf infusion that was prepared using sterilized plant material and water, thus suggesting a role for microbial activity in the production of odorants that mediate the oviposition response of gravid mosquitoes.
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