The genospecies B. burgdorferi s.l., isolated from ticks and from neurological patients with suspected Lyme borreliosis.

OBJECTIVE: Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most disseminated tick-borne disease in the Northern hemisphere, and infestation with ticks is one of the essential factors influencing transmission of the disease to humans. This work intends to compare the occurrence of borrelia circulating in indigenous ticks and in patients suffering from neurological diseases.

MATERIALS & METHODS: The total of 660 nymphs and 567 adult ticks from the Bratislava and Košice areas was examined over the years 2001-2004, and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 82 neurological patients suffering from suspected Lyme borreliosis infection was investigated in the 2007-2009 period, using the polymerase chain reaction method (PCR).

RESULTS: PCR investigation proved presence of borrelia in 23.3% of the total 1227 ticks; of these, co-infection was found in 2.7% of all ticks. Borrelia garinii (9.9%) and B. valaisaina (9.2%) were the prevalent types. PCR investigation of the CSF samples of 32 patients with clinically diagnosed Lyme borreliosis showed the presence of B. burgdorferi s.l. in 17 cases. Positive results were found also in patients with unclear or different diagnoses. In cases where the genospecies could be identified, B. garinii was most frequently found (8x), followed with B. burgdorferi s.s. (4×) and B. afzelii (3×).

CONCLUSIONS: The high infestation level of ticks with borrelia, mainly with B. garinii which is the most-often documented borrelia species identified in neurological patients, is indicative of a high risk of this contamination in Slovakia. B. garinii were found also in our neuroborreliosis patients, whereas their proof in the CSF of patients with suspected neuroborreliosis or with a different clinical diagnosis pointed upon their persistence after an infectious experience. However, knowledge of not only the genospecies but also of the genotypes capable of eliciting an invasive disorder would be necessary for better clarification of the relationship between borrelia and their peccant capacity. Identification of the invasive borrelia types circulating in nature, and clarification of the vector vs. human infection incidence relationship is of importance from the aspect of detailed knowledge of the epidemiology of this disease.

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