Term of Award

Summer 1996

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

James H. Oliver, Jr.

Committee Member 1

Frank E. French

Committee Member 2

Lance A. Durden

Abstract

Experiments were conducted to determine if Borrelia burgdorferi could be transmitted sexually, transplacentally, or through contact with urine or feces from infected to uninfected hamsters. The SI-1 strain of B. burgdorferi used in the experiments was isolated from the bladder of a cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus) trapped on Sapelo Island (Mclntosh County), Georgia. A hamster was infected by needle inoculation and subsequently served as a host to larval Ixodes scapularis Say. Approximately 68 percent of the resulting nymphs were infected. The nymphs were fed on uninfected hamsters and 3 of 4 males and 6 of 6 females became infected. The infected hamsters were allowed to mate with uninfected partners; none of the uninfected hamsters became infected after mating.

To determine if transplacental transmission of B. burgdorferi can occur from infected mothers to their offspring, 6 infected female hamsters were mated with 6 uninfected male hamsters, while 3 infected male hamsters were mated with 6 uninfected female hamsters. These two sets of mating pairs were also used to determine if sexual transmission can occur. Also, 6 pairs of uninfected male and female hamsters were mated; infected I. scapularis nymphs were then fed on the female hamsters of these pairs while they were pregnant. No evidence of transplacental transmission was obtained.

Contact transmission trials of B. burgdorferi from 2 infected females to 2 uninfected male and 2 uninfected female hamsters, and from 2 infected males to 2 uninfected male and 2 uninfected female hamsters via urine or feces failed.

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