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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Jan;12(1):21-7. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2011.0668. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Absence of Lyme disease spirochetes in larval Ixodes ricinus ticks.

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Abt. Parasitologie, Institut für Pathologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


To determine which kind of spirochete infects larval Ixodes ricinus, we examined questing larvae and larvae derived from engorged females for the presence of particular spirochetal DNA that permitted species differentiation. Borrelia miyamotoi was the sole spirochete detected in larval ticks sampled while questing on vegetation. Questing nymphal and adult ticks were infected mainly by Borrelia afzelii, whereas larval ticks resulting from engorged females of the same population were solely infected by B. miyamotoi. Since larvae acquire Lyme disease spirochetes within a few hours of attachment to an infected rodent, questing larvae in nature may have acquired Lyme disease spirochetes from an interrupted host contact. Even if transovarial transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes may occasionally occur, it seems to be an exceedingly rare event. No undisputable proof exists for vertical transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes, whereas B. miyamotoi appears to be readily passed between generations of vector ticks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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