Prevention of Lyme disease

The tick, Ixodes ricinus, transmits an array of zoonotic pathogens, most frequently the agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. The risk to acquire Lyme disease spirochetes derives from infected ticks questing for hosts in ecotonal zones, e.g. at the the forest s edge. Various rodents and birds serve as competent reservoir hosts for Lyme disease spirochetes. Infected nymphal ticks transmit spirochetes to them during their bloodmeal, and non-infected larval ticks may subsequently acquire spirochetes from such infected hosts. We propose measures that aim to reduce the proportion of infected ticks within the tick population und thus decrease the risk of encountering an infected tick. We had previously observed that infected ticks are less prevalent in sites in which numerous incompetent or so-called zooprophylactic animals serve as hosts to subadult ticks. We propose that the introduction of zooprophylactic hosts into endemic sites will reduce the prevalence of infected ticks, because they divert ticks from feeding on competent hosts. Combining fieldwork with laboratory analysis, we examine the effect of various methods of intervention on Lyme disease risk.
Head of Project:

Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz-Rainer Matuschka
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel. 83870374
Fax 7762085
Additional Head of Project:

Dr. Dania Richter
Begin/End of Project:

04/2005 - 09/2008
Funded by:

Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg

Matuschka F-R, Fischer P, Heiler M, Richter D, Spielman A. Capacity of European animals as reservoir hosts for the Lyme disease spirochete. J Infect Dis 1992;165:479-83. Matuschka F-R, Heiler M, Eiffert H, Fischer P, Lotter H, Spielman A. Diversionary role of hoofed game in the transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1993;48:693-9. Richter D, Matuschka F-R (2006) Modulatory effect of cattle on risk of Lyme disease. Emerg Infect Dis 12:1919-1923 ; Richter D, Matuschka F-R (2006) Perpetuation of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia lusitaniae by lizards. Appl Environ Microbiol 72:4627-32