Host mice (Peromyscus leucopus and Peromyscus maniculatus) were sampled throughout the state of Pennsylvania to determine the geographical and ecological distribution of the
Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. All 67 counties of the state were sampled. A total of 1,619 mice were captured from a total of 157 sites during the period 1990 to 1993 for an overall capture rate of 29.69%. A total of 112 (6.92%) isolations of B. burgdorferi were made. The distribution of isolations revealed the reason for the correlated distribution of human cases of
Lyme disease in the state. Significantly more mice were captured and significantly more isolations were made from hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) habitat than from deciduous species forest. Nevertheless, high isolation rates from counties of the southeastern corner of the state illustrate well that hemlock habitat is not essential. Evidence suggests that in some areas, transmission between mice is occurring in some way other than through ticks as vectors. Host mice proved useful for determining the geographical and ecological distribution of B. burgdorferi.