Seasonal variation in the capacity of the bank vole to infect larval ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) with the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.

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Seasonal variation in the capacity of bank voles, Clethrionomys glareolus (Schreber), to infect larval Ixodes ricinus (L.) ticks with Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner was examined from May through October 1991 at Bogesund, near Stockholm in south-central Sweden. Although larval infestations of bank voles were greatest in June and July, nearly 70% of all larval ticks infected with spirochetes by bank voles at this site became infected during August and September. Seasonality of infectivity was related to the degree of earlier nymphal infestation on voles as well as to the age composition of the vole population. These factors may influence the infectivity of other rodent reservoirs of B. burgdorferi, both in Europe and North America. Moreover, in determining the reservoir potential of tick hosts, a host population's spirochetal infectivity should be determined for the entire period of larval infestation rather than just during the period of peak larval infestation.

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Journal of medical entomology