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Integration of a tick-borne encephalitis virus and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato into mountain ecosystems, following a shift in the altitudinal limit of distribution of their vector, Ixodes ricinus (Krkonose mountains, Czech Republic)



Integration of a tick-borne encephalitis virus and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato into mountain ecosystems, following a shift in the altitudinal limit of distribution of their vector, Ixodes ricinus (Krkonose mountains, Czech Republic)



Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 10(3): 223-230



The altitudinal shift in the limit of Ixodes ricinus occurrence above the previously established altitude of 750 m above sea level has been monitored over the long-term (2002-2008) in the Krkonose Mts. (Giant Mts.), the highest in the Czech Republic, along two vertical transects in their eastern and central parts (600-1020 and 600-1270 m). Ticks were collected by flagging three times annually, and examined individually by PCR or RT-PCR for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato or tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). A total of 5999 I. ricinus ticks were tested. TBEV RNA was detected in 26 ticks at up to 1140 m. Demonstration of TBEV in two larvae of I. ricinus indicates transovarial transmission. Similar infection rates in larvae and nymphs show vertical transmission in TBEV circulation to be very important under these mountain conditions. B. burgdorferi sensu stricto was found at up to 1040-1065 m, Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii up to 1080-1140 m, and Borrelia valaisiana up to 1270 m. The total infection rates of nymphs and larvae were 7.3% and 2%, respectively. B. garinii was the most prevalent (37%), followed by B. afzelii (29%), B. burgdorferi s.s. (11%), and B. valaisiana (9%). Double to quadruple coinfections were detected in 32% of the infected ticks, most frequently B. garinii/B. afzelii. Predominance of B. garinii and B. valaisiana over B. afzelii suggests that small passerine birds moving on the ground are responsible for permanent local populations of I. ricinus in mountain localities with low numbers of small terrestrial mammals. The detection of B. burgdorferi sensu lato and TBEV in host-seeking larvae indicates an autochthonic infection. Upon analysis of the local climate we consider climate warming to be responsible for the spreading of ticks and tick-transmitted pathogens to higher altitudes.

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Accession: 053895240

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 19492952

DOI: 10.1089/vbz.2009.0020


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