Volume 47, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The role of the Western fence lizard in the enzootiology of the Lyme disease spirochete was evaluated in the Hopland and Ukiah areas of Mendocino County, California. In 1989, half of 74 lizards collected monthly from April to October at Hopland were infested by the immature western black-legged tick at a mean intensity of 6.0 ticks per lizard. The prevalence of infestation of lizards by immature (36 of 73) at Ukiah was similar, but the mean intensity (12.9) was approximately twice as great. Overall, zero of 223 larvae and 2 (0.6%) of 330 nymphs from both sites were found to contain spirochetes by direct immunofluorescence. Larval and nymphal fit the negative binomial distribution in spring, and the prevalence and abundance of these stages were significantly greater in spring than in summer at both sites. Spirochetes were not visualized in thick blood films prepared from 133 lizards from both localities. Plasma antibodies against were detected in seven of 10 experimentally inoculated lizards, in five (8%) of 63 lizards from Hopland, and in 10 (14%) of 70 lizards from Ukiah. Adult lizards had a significantly greater tick burden and seropositivity rate than juvenile lizards only at Ukiah. In 1991, efforts to detect and culture spirochetes from the blood of 21 wild-caught lizards and from the tissues of 189 associated ticks that fed xenodiagnostically on them were unsuccessful. We conclude that some lizards are exposed to spirochetes during the annual activity period of immature , but that is much more important as a host of immature ticks than as a source of spirochetal infection for such ticks.


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