Capacity of European Animals as Reservoir Hosts for the Lyme Disease Spirochete

Franz Rainer Matuschka, Peter Fischer, Mirjam Heiler, Dania Richter, Andrew Spielman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations

Abstract

The abundance of spirochete-infected Ixodes ricinus ticks naturally derived from endemic rodents was compared to identify the reservoir hosts of the agent of Lyme disease at a series of enzootic sites in Central Europe. Black-striped mice appear to be the most important rodent host for the tick and infect more ticks with Borrelia burgdorferi than do other mice and voles tested. Although rodents infect about half of the ticks that feed on them, lizards infect none. These spirochete-incompetent hosts dilute the force of transmission because many nymphal ticks feed on them. Older male hosts are more heavily infested by subadult ticks than are younger or female hosts. The intensity of transmission of the agent of Lyme disease at particular Central European sites appears to correlate directly with the presence of black-striped mice and inversely with that of lizards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-483
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Volume165
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1992

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