Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies in Ixodes ricinus ticks in Europe: A metaanalysis

Carolin Rauter, Thomas Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

257 Scopus citations


In Europe, Borrelia burgdorferi genospecies causing Lyme borreliosis are mainly transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus. Since its discovery, B. burgdorferi has been the subject of many epidemiological studies to determine its prevalence and the distribution of the different genospecies in ticks. In the current study we systematically reviewed the literature on epidemiological studies of I. ricinus ticks infected with B. burgdorferi sensu lato. A total of 1,186 abstracts in English published from 1984 to 2003 were identified by a PubMed keyword search and from the compiled article references. A multistep filter process was used to select relevant articles; 110 articles from 24 countries contained data on the rates of infection of I. ricinus with Borrelia in Europe (112,579 ticks), and 44 articles from 21 countries included species-specific analyses (3,273 positive ticks). These data were used to evaluate the overall rate of infection of I. ricinus with Borrelia genospecies, regional distributions within Europe, and changes over time, as well as the influence of different detection methods on the infection rate. While the infection rate was significantly higher in adults (18.6%) than in nymphs (10.1%), no effect of detection method, tick gender, or collection period (1986 to 1993 versus 1994 to 2002) was found. The highest rates of infection of I. ricinus were found in countries in central Europe. B. afzelii and B. garinii are the most common Borrelia species, but the distribution of genospecies seems to vary in different regions in Europe. The most frequent coinfection by Borrelia species was found for B. garinii and B. valaisiana.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7203-7216
Number of pages14
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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