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Zubrikova, Dana; Wittmann, Maria; Honig, Vaclav; Svec, Pavel; Vichova, Bronislava; Essbauer, Sandra; Dobler, Gerhard; Grubhoffer, Libor and Pfister, Kurt (2020): Prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in Ixodes ricinus ticks in Lower Bavaria and Upper Palatinate, Germany. In: Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, Vol. 11, No. 3, 101375

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Abstract

Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) are the most common tick-borne diseases in Germany. We collected Ixodes ricinus ticks from 16 high-risk and four low-risk sites distributed in Lower Bavaria and Upper Palatinate based on the number of human TBE cases recorded at the Robert Koch Institute from 2001 to 2009. A total of 8805 questing ticks (8203 nymphs, 602 adults) were collected in 2010 and examined in pools for the presence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) using real-time RT-PCR. Overall TBEV prevalence evaluated as the minimum infection rate (MIR) was 0.26 % (23 positive pools/8805 ticks in 1029 pools). TBEV was detected at seven of the 16 high-risk sites, where MIR ranged from 0.16 to 2.86 %. A total of 3969 ticks were examined by PCR for infection with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) targeting the 5 S-23 S rRNA intergenic spacer (IGS) region. IGS nucleotide sequences were used to determine genospecies. Selected positive Borrelia samples were subjected to PCR and sequencing targeting the OspA gene, providing 46 sequences for molecular phylogenetic analysis. Of the 3969 questing ticks, 506 (12.7 %) were positive for B. burgdorferi s.l. Seven B. burgdorferi s.l. genospecies were identified: B. afzelii (41.3 %), B. garinii (19 %), B. valaisiana (13.8 %), B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (11.1 %), B. spielmanii (0.4 %), B. lusitaniae (0.2 %), and Candidatus B. finlandensis (0.6 %). Mixed infections were identified in 13.6 % of the ticks. The rate of infection in questing ticks varied among sites from 5.6 % (72 examined, four positive) to 29.5 % (88 examined, 26 positive). B. burgdorferi s.l. occurred at all 20 sites, whereas TBEV was detected only at the high-risk sites where more human TBE cases were reported compared to low-risk sites.

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