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.