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Author ORCID Identifier

Neha Shaikh: 0000-0002-6305-225X Dr. Michel Shamoon-Pour: 0000-0002-2094-002X Dr. Garruto: 0000-0003-4985-8190

Faculty Sponsor

Michel Shamoon-Pour

Abstract

Lyme disease, the most common zoonotic disease in the United States, is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. In order to manage and confront the notable rise in Lyme disease cases, it is crucial to cultivate a deeper understanding of B. burgdorferi and its genes. The outer surface protein C (ospC) gene is highly polymorphic and commonly used as a genetic marker due to its crucial role in establishing mammalian infection. We report novel data on the prevalence of B. burgdorferi ospC genotypes in the infected tick populations of the Upper Susquehanna River Basin of New York State. DNA extracted from 266 Ixodes scapularis, the blacklegged ticks, were tested for the presence of ospC gene and the positive samples were subjected to sequencing. The specific ospC genotype was identified for 56 positive samples which were infected with B. burgdorferi representing a single ospC genotype. A total of 12 ospC genotypes were identified in the 56 ticks, with genotypes I, K, and A being the most prevalent across the Upper Susquehanna River Basin with little variation among the six counties. The frequency distribution of ospC variants in this region is significantly different from the few previously studied regions in the Northeast. This research will have implications in the public health sector by providing assessment for Lyme disease risk in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin and insight into strain specific vaccines based on OspC. Further research can be done into the dispersion pattern of B. burgdorferi within the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, while also replicating this study for other regions.

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