[Seroprevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and tick-borne encephalitis virus in a rural area of Samsun, Turkey]

Mikrobiyol Bul. 2012 Apr;46(2):247-56.
[Article in Turkish]


Lyme disease or lyme borreliosis is a zoonosis caused by Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted by ticks, especially Ixodes species. Lyme borreliosis is a multi-systemic disease that invades the skin, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an important arboviral infection caused by tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). The central nervous system is affected and the disease most often manifests as meningitis, encephalitis or meningoencephalitis. Previous studies have shown that B.burgdorferi and TBEV can be transmitted by the same tick species (Ixodes ricinus). Although the geographic location and climate is similar to some south-eastern European countries where lyme borreliosis and TBE have been reported, the incidence and prevalence of these diseases in Turkey still remain unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the seroprevelance of B.burgdorferi and TBEV in healthy population in Tekkeköy (41° 8-13' North; 36° 24-31' East), a district of Samsun province, Turkey with evidence of tick-borne disease and to explore the possible correlations of life styles of healthy individuals and prevelance. The cross-sectional study population included 419 people selected using a random proportional sampling method. All participants were asked at interview to complete a questionnaire and peripheral blood samples were collected. From the blood samples, B.burgdorferi IgG and IgM antibodies were evaluated using commercial ELISA (Euroimmun, Germany) and confirmed with Western blot (WB, Euroimmun, Germany). ELISA method was also used to asses IgM and IgG antibodies against TBEV, and neutralization test was used for confirmation. Of the 419 samples, 17 (4%) were positive for B.burgdorferi IgG by ELISA, however 14 (14/419; 3.3%) of them were confirmed by WB. B.burgdorferi seropositivity was higher among people living in rural areas, at an altitude of ≥ 400 meters and in locations ecologically suitable for wild boar and rabbits; seropositivity was also seen to be higher among dog owners (p= 0.001, p= 0.001, p= 0.001, p= 0.001, p= 0.018, respectively). For TBEV, two samples yielded IgG positive, and one IgM positive results by ELISA, however none of them were confirmed by neutralization assay. Nevertheless, one of those three TBEV ELISA positive samples, was found positive for West Nile virus specific antibodies with neutralization test. The results of this study emphasized the presence of tick-borne diseases in that specific region, and in this regard the need for public health interventions has been demonstrated.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne / immunology*
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / epidemiology*
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / transmission
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Lyme Disease / transmission
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Health
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antibodies, Viral