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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Jul;72(7):4627-32.

Perpetuation of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia lusitaniae by lizards.

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  • 1Abt. Parasitologie, Institut für Pathologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Malteserstrasse 74-100, 12249 Berlin, Germany.


To determine whether the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia lusitaniae is associated with lizards, we compared the prevalence and genospecies of spirochetes present in rodent- and lizard-associated ticks at a site where this spirochete frequently infects questing ticks. Whereas questing nymphal Ixodes ricinus ticks were infected mainly by Borrelia afzelii, one-half of the infected adult ticks harbored B. lusitaniae at our study site. Lyme disease spirochetes were more prevalent in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) and common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) than in small rodents. Although subadult ticks feeding on rodents acquired mainly B. afzelii, subadult ticks feeding on lizards became infected by B. lusitaniae. Genetic analysis confirmed that the spirochetes isolated from ticks feeding on lizards are members of the B. lusitaniae genospecies and resemble type strain PotiB2. At our central European study site, lizards, which were previously considered zooprophylactic for the agent of Lyme disease, appear to perpetuate B. lusitaniae.

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