Tick infestation risk and Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. infection-induced increase in host-finding efficacy of female Ixodes ricinus under natural conditions

Exp Appl Acarol. 2008 Feb;44(2):137-45. doi: 10.1007/s10493-008-9131-4. Epub 2008 Feb 14.


An investigation of the risk of human tick infestation, together with the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. infection, was conducted in a sylvatic habitat in western Germany to provide data needed for future risk-benefit evaluations of acaricides used for clothing impregnation. Additionally, data were collected on behavioural changes in Borrelia burgdorferi s.l.-infected adult female I. ricinus ticks and the possible impact of such changes on host-finding efficacy. The risk of I. ricinus-infestation was determined by collecting from the protective clothing of volunteers and by dragging in known tick-infested sites in the Kühkopf Mountain area, Koblenz, Germany, from June through October 2006. The overall tick infestation rate per person per hour was 7.4+/-5.5, with the following sex- and stage-specific differences: males 0.32+/-0.37, females 1.1+/-1.2, nymphs 3.6+/-4.4, larvae 2.4+/-3.5. Concurrent dragging revealed an average 19.4+/-16.2 times higher infestation rate as well as a markedly lower infection rate with borreliae in adult I. ricinus ticks when compared to ticks collected from exposed human volunteers. Although the difference in infection rates was statistically significant (P<0.023) only in adult female ticks, our data indicate that B. burgdorferi s.l. infection may increase host-finding efficacy in adult I. ricinus. The overall exposure risk was 1.0 B. burgdorferi s.l.-infected ticks per person per hour of exposure, or 0.25 ticks per 100 m walking distance in the study area.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / pathogenicity
  • Clothing
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Ixodes / microbiology*
  • Ixodes / pathogenicity*
  • Ixodes / physiology
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Tick Infestations / epidemiology*