Human babesiosis in the northeastern United States caused by Babesia microti (Apicomplexa: Piroplasmida) is mainly reported from coastal New England sites, where deer ticks (Ixodes dammini) are common. However, the piroplasm has been detected in microtine rodents elsewhere in association with I. angustus or other nidicolous ticks, suggesting that the agent is widely distributed but zoonotically significant only where a human-biting “bridge” vector is present. To determine whether this piroplasm may be enzootic in areas where I. dammini is absent, we surveyed small mammals collected from 2 sites in Maine, where I. angustus or I. muris is common but I. dammini is not. Of 43 chipmunks, voles, deer mice, and shrews examined, 3 (6.9, 95% confidence interval 0 to 14.5) were parasitemic, as determined by blood smear or polymerase chain reaction targeting a piroplasm-specific portion of the 18S ribosomal DNA gene. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequenced amplification products demonstrates the presence of 2 forms of B. microti. We conclude that B. microti may be enzootic in the absence of I. dammini but that human risk relates to dense infestations of this human-biting tick.

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