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Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato) in Ixodes ricinus (L.) populations in France, according to a phytoecological zoning of the territory.

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Abstract

Ixodes ricinus is considered as the main vector of
Lyme Borreliosis in France. The aim of our investigations was to obtain a comprehensive view of the spatial risk linked to the distribution of the species in our country. Previous studies [1] have provided strong evidence that the species populations are widely distributed, so the objective of the present work was to ascertain the bacteriological infection of the tick by the agent of the zoonosis (Borrelia burgdorferi, sensu lato), over the French territory, whatever the ecological conditions may be. For this purpose, we kept the same framework as that used in our acarological investigation, a phytoecological zoning of the territory into 54 geographically separate and ecologically distinct units distributed into three climatic zones. Batches of ticks, picked up in these different phytoecological units (only two thirds of which were sampled), were submitted for bacteriological investigation. A total of 4,673 ticks were examined, individually, for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi, by immunofluorescence. Percentages of infection according to the various stages of Ixodes ricinus free stages, collected by flagging, were as follows: 4.95% in 3,247 nymphs, 11.2% in 699 males, 12.5% in 727 females. Larvae were ignored. Practically all the tested units harboured the bacterium. The percentage of tick samples (25 ticks or more) absolutely free of Borrelia, wherever they came from, is very low (not exceeding 10 percent of the sampled forests). Our study confirms the assessment of a widespread distribution of the zoonosis in France which was, until now, exclusively based on an approximate distribution of limited human cases observed in the country.

Eur J Epidemiol. 1996 Aug;12(4):395-401. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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