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J Med Entomol. 2007 Mar;44(2):303-7.

Borrelia lusitaniae in immature Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) feeding on common wall lizards in Tuscany, central Italy.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Produzioni Animali, Epidemiologia, Ecologia, Facolt√† di Medicina Veterinaria, Universit√† degli Studi di Torino, Via Leonardo da Vinci, 44, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy.


Lizards and small rodents were live captured in Tuscany, central Italy, from May through August 2005. Prevalence of infestation by larval Ixodes ricinus L. (Acari: Ixodidae) and mean numbers of larvae per host were not significantly different for common wall lizards, Podarcis muralis Laurenti, and Apodemus spp. mice, whereas infestation levels by nymphs were significantly greater on lizards. Borrelia lusitaniae, which was previously shown to be dominant in host-seeking I. ricinus in the same study area, was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 19.8% (95% confidence interval: 14.4, 26.0) of larval ticks and in 52.9% (27.8, 77.0) of nymphs that were collected from lizards. Moreover, 18.8% (7.2, 36.4) and 25.0 (3.2, 65.1) of lizards' tail biopsies and blood samples, respectively, were positive for B. lusitaniae. Conversely, attached ticks and ear biopsies from Apodemus spp. mice were PCR negative. Passerine birds belonging to 10 species were live captured in March 2005, and Borrelia valaisiana was detected in 57.1% (18.4, 90.1) of I. ricinus nymphs feeding on Eurasian blackbirds, Turdus merula L. Results of this study suggest that lizards play an important role as reservoirs for B. lusitanae and may affect the dominance of this genospecies in the Mediterranean area.

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