Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum Genospecies in Northern California

Kathleen Sholty, Emily L. Pascoe, Janet Foley, Nicole Stephenson, Greg Hacker, Mary Straub, Austin Roy, Richard Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The sensu lato (s.l.) complexes of Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum include pathogenic genospecies each with distinct ecologies in northern California, yet, most work conflates the genospecies of each pathogen into one sensu lato species. Detailed understanding of the differences in geographic distributions and ecology among genospecies is lacking. We aimed to evaluate whether two B. burgdorferi and two A. phagocytophilum genospecies in high-risk locations in coastal northern California were spatially clustered and if presence of a particular genospecies was associated with geographical site, host species, or other demographic or ecological variables. DNA sequencing was performed to differentiate genospecies of Borreliae and Anaplasma from PCR-positive dusky-footed woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes) and sciurids (chipmunks, Tamias spp., and Douglas squirrels, Tamiasciurus douglasii) at four sites in northwestern California. Logistic regression was performed to assess associations of genospecies with the predictor variables host species, host sex, site, season, and year. Spatial clustering was assessed using a Poisson spatial scan statistic in SaTScan. Host species was a significant predictor for Borrelia bissettiae, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.), A. phagocytophilum s.s., and the DU1 Anaplasma genospecies. Woodrats were significantly more likely to be PCR-positive for B. bissettiae and A. phagocytophilum DU1 genospecies, while A. phagocytophilum s.s. and B. burgdorferi s.s. were significantly associated with sciurids. We report a single Borrelia lanei in an Allen's chipmunk (Tamias senex) from the Hoopa Valley Tribal Reservation. A significant spatial cluster of A. phagocytophilum s.s. was detected at Hendy Woods State Park in Mendocino County. These results highlight the need to better understand genospecies partitioning according to host species to further assess human risks, aid in future surveillance, and inform targeted research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-333
Number of pages9
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • anaplasmosis
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Lyme borreliosis
  • pathogen ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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