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Lyme disease and babesiosis: preliminary findings on the transmission risk in highly frequented areas of the Monti Sibillini National Park (Central Italy).

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The Monti Sibillini National Park is a recently borne protected area in the central Apennines that has become an important tourist destination. Mountain grasslands and woods have made it also a suitable habitat for sheep and bovine cattle, as well as for wild animals such as the wild bore and the roe deer. Therefore, a preliminary investigation was conducted to assess the risk of transmission of tick-borne zoonoses, such as
Lyme disease and Babesiosis, by actively looking for both the arthropod vector and the causative agent. For two consecutive years, ambushing ticks were collected in four distinct geographical areas, comprehensive of many highly frequented tourist places. The tick fauna, tick habitats and the seasonal distribution of the different tick life stages collected with the method of "flagging and dragging" have been reported. Almost all the collected specimens belonged to the species Haemaphysalis punctata (Canestrini and Fanzago) (Acari: Ixodidae), which was found moderately infected with Babesia spp. Only a few Ixodes ricinus (Linnaeus) ticks, the most competent vector of
Lyme disease, were found and on PCR examination all of them resulted negative as far as the infectious agent Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Johnson) is concerned.

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2004 Fall;4(3):214-20.

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