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The prevalence of different genospecies of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in infected ticks could be a determinant for the risk of acquiring
Lyme borreliosis (LB) and its clinical presentation. A total of 7373 ticks and 2761 samples from LB patients from the same area in southwest Germany were analyzed by PCR to assess the frequency of the occurrence of LB-associated genospecies. Fifteen percent of the tick samples and 19% of the human samples were found positive for the presence of B. burgdorferi sensu lato. Further identification of 1106 B. burgdorferi sensu lato positive tick samples by reverse line blotting and 125 positive patient samples by nested PCR using species-specific primers revealed the occurrence of B. afzelii, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii and B. valaisiana. Both single-species and mixed infections were noted and a similar distribution of the different genospecies was found in ticks compared with human samples. It was also the purpose of this study to obtain more information about a possible correlation between the distribution of Borrelia species and clinical syndromes of LB. Skin biopsies of 59 patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans and cerebrospinal fluid samples from 78 patients with possible neuroborreliosis were analyzed. In conclusion, the distribution of the different genospecies in ticks is the decisive factor for the occurrence of the different Borrelia genospecies in samples from LB patients. Borrelia afzelii is the predominant genospecies in all kind of samples from the observed area and there seems to be no association of particular Borrelia genospecies with distinct clinical manifestations of LB.