Questing Ixodes ricinus ticks (Acari, Ixodidae) as a vector of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Borrelia miyamotoi in an urban area of north-eastern Poland.Exp Appl Acarol 2019; 78(1):113-126EA
Green areas located within large cities, as natural ecotypes, are a convenient habitat for ticks and their use as recreational areas is associated with the potential risk of acquiring tick-borne diseases. This study estimated the I. ricinus tick density, prevalence of infection with Borrelia species and the diversity of these bacteria in a green urban area (Olsztyn) of north-eastern Poland, an endemic region of tick-borne diseases. The ticks were collected during spring and autumn of 2015, at sites differing in the degree of human pressure and habitat. Borrelia species detection, typing and a molecular phylogenetic analysis were carried out based on the sequenced flaB gene. The overall mean abundance of I. ricinus was 2.0 ± 1.55 ticks per 100 m2. The density of I. ricinus did not vary significantly between sites. According to semi-qualitative tick abundance categories, the collection sites were classified as 'very low' and 'low' tick abundance category. The overall infection rate of I. ricinus with Borrelia spirochaetes was 27.4%. The infection rate of adult ticks (42.0%) was three times higher than with nymphs (14.3%). Based on the restriction patterns and sequencing, B. afzelii (93.1%; 27/29), B. valaisiana 3.5% (1/29) and B. miyamotoi (3.5%; 1/29), related to the relapsing fever (RF) spirochaetes, were detected. No co-infections were found. Borrelia miyamotoi, detected for the first time in ticks in the north-eastern urban areas of Poland, was identical to isolates described as European-type. The Borrelia spirochaete infection rate of I. ricinus ticks in an urban area indicated a high risk of LB. Physicians should also be aware of B. miyamotoi infections among patients with a history of tick-bites in north-eastern Poland.