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A seroprevalence and risk factor study of emerging tickborne infectious diseases (
Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis) was conducted among 230 residents of a semirural community in Sonoma County, California. Over 50% of residents reported finding a tick on themselves in the preceding 12 months. Samples from 51(23%) residents were seroreactive to antigens from one or more tickborne
disease agents: 1.4% to Borrelia burgdorferi, 0.4% to Ehrlichia equi, 4.6% to Ehrlichia chaffeensis, and 17.8% to the Babesia-like piroplasm WA1. Only 14 (27%) of these seroreactive residents reported one or more symptoms compatible with these diseases. Seroreactivity was significantly associated with younger age (<16 years), longer residence in the community (11-20 years), and having had a physician’s diagnosis of
Lyme disease. In northern California, the risk of infection with these emerging tickborne diseases, particularly in children, may be greater than previously recognized.