Blood donor Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato seroprevalence and history of tick bites at a northern limit of the vector distribution

APMIS. 2017 Aug;125(8):717-724. doi: 10.1111/apm.12708. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


In order to study the antibody seroprevalence of the causal agent of Lyme borreliosis, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.), and the history of tick bites at a geographical distribution limit of Ixodes ricinus, we compared healthy blood donors in geographically extreme regions: the borreliosis-endemic Vestfold County (59°N) and the region of northern Norway. Blood samples were screened using IgG/VlsE ELISA, and positive/borderline samples were confirmed using C6 ELISA and immunoblot assays. Also, donors completed a questionnaire consisting of several items including the places they have lived, and whether they owned any pets. The seroprevalence was 0.48% (5/1048) in northern Norway and 9.25% (48/519) in Vestfold County. Seven donors (of 1048) had experienced a single tick bite in the southern part of Nordland County (65°N) in northern Norway. This first study on B. burgdorferi s.l. antibody seroprevalence and tick bites on humans and pets in northern Norway showed that the seroprevalence of B. burgdorferi s.l. infection and the risk of tick bite in northern Norway are insignificant; the fact that only five positive IgG samples were detected underscores the very low background seroprevalence. These results suggest that so far I. ricinus has not expanded north of the previously established geographical distribution limit.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Ixodes ricinus; Arctic regions; VlsE protein; surveys and questionnaires; tick bites.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Blood Donors
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Ixodes / growth & development*
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tick Bites / complications
  • Tick Bites / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G