The Holarctic distribution of Babesia microti within small rodents implies an ancient association. A seminal report of piroplasms in Alaskan voles suggested to us the possibility that B. microti entered North America within Eurasian microtine rodents dispersing through Beringian corridors. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed samples from Alaskan rodents by polymerase chain reaction for evidence of infection with B. microti; one-third of the rodents were found to be infected. Sequence analysis of the 18S rDNA gene demonstrates that Alaskan B. microti comprises a clade that infects microtines in several sites across North America and is distinct from a clade that is zoonotic.
American Society of Parasitologists