Matthew J. Wolf, MS; Hannah R. Watkins, BS; William R. Schwan, PhD
Introduction: The black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis (I scapularis), is now recognized as the deadliest tick vector in the United States. The Upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota, are endemic to a diversity of tick-transmitted infectious diseases. Although Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, still accounts for the majority of diagnosed infections, I scapularis is known to transmit other bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents.
Objective: To provide an overview of the array of pathogenic microorganisms carried by I scapularis ticks in the Upper Midwest.
Methods: A literature review was conducted to collect and analyze current information about I scapularis lifestyle, transmission, microorganisms carried by the arthropod vector, and the diseases that occur as a result of infections with these microorganisms in the Upper Midwest.
Results: Diagnosis of co-infection from tick-borne zoonosis in humans has increased over the last 2 decades. Since I scapularis can transmit multiple pathogens, it is clinically important because different diagnostic testing and treatment strategies may need to be implemented for a patient with I scapularis-borne infection(s).
Conclusions: This review has concentrated on I scapularis-transmitted diseases affecting the Upper Midwest and has explored the ecology of the I scapularis vector and its role in pathogen transmission.