Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Detection of invasive Borrelia burgdorferi strains in north-eastern Piedmont, Italy.

Abstract

Following reports of human cases of Lyme borreliosis from the Ossola Valley, a mountainous area of Piemonte, north-western Italy, the abundance and altitudinal distribution of ticks, and infection of these vectors with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato were evaluated. A total of 1662 host-seeking Ixodes ricinus were collected by dragging from April to September 2011 at locations between 400 and 1450 m above sea level. Additional 104 I. ricinus were collected from 35 hunted wild animals (4 chamois, 8 roe deer, 23 red deer). Tick density, expressed as the number of ticks per 100 m2, resulted highly variable among different areas, ranging from 0 to 105 larvae and from 0 to 22 nymphs. A sample of 352 ticks (327 from dragging and 25 from wild animals) was screened by a PCR assay targeting a fragment of the 16S rRNA gene of B. burgdorferi s.l. Positive samples were confirmed with a PCR assay specific for the 5S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer region and sequenced. Four genospecies were found: B. afzelii (prevalence 4.0%), B. lusitaniae (4.0%), B. garinii (1.5%) and B. valaisiana (0.3%). Phylogenetic analysis based on the ospC gene showed that most of the Borrelia strains from pathogenic genospecies had the potential for human infection and for invasion of secondary body sites.