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Risk of urban Lyme disease enhanced by the presence of rats.

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To determine whether Norway rats contribute to the risk of human
Lyme disease in a central European city park, densities of endemic rodents were compared as were feeding densities of vector ticks and prevalence of infection by the
Lyme disease spirochete. Only Norway rats and yellow-necked mice were abundant, and three times as many mice as rats were present. More larval ticks fed on rats than on mice, and far more nymphs engorged on the rats. All rats but only about half of the mice infected ticks. Each rat was more infectious than each infectious mouse. Infected rats were distributed throughout the city. Spirochetes infected about a quarter of the questing nymphal ticks. The capacity of rats to serve as reservoir hosts for the
Lyme disease spirochete, therefore, increases risk of infection among visitors to this and other urban parks.

J Infect Dis. 1996 Nov;174(5):1108-11. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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