Molecular characterisation and prevalence of tick-borne diseases pathogens in Lithuania

Abstract number: p545

Ambrasiene  D., Turcinaviciene  J., Paulauskas  A., Mikalauskas  R.


The tick Ixodes ricinus is involved in the transmission and maintenance of a wide variety of pathogens of species Borrelia, Ehrlichia/Anaplasma and Babesia. The infection is initiated by inoculation of the bacterium into the skin during a tick bite. Lyme borreliosis is the prominent human infectious disease; Ehrlichia/Anaplasma and Babesia are also regarded as human pathogens.


The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence of Borrelia, Ehrlichia and Babesia in I. ricinus ticks by molecular genetics methods.


More than 2000 ticks were collected in West, North, East and South regions of Lithuania (WL, NL, EL, SL). For detection of B. burgdorferi s.l. in infected ticks, the 1408 adults and 151 nymphs were analysed individually by the PCR with fla gene specific primers. For Borrelia genotyping were used multiplex PCRs with genospecies-specific primers for B. burgdorferi s.s., B. garinii and B. afzelii. The presence Ehrlichia/Anaplasma group was determined by using PCR with specific primers. The positive samples were reamplified and the biotinylated Ehrlichia/Anaplasma PCR products were hybridised with different oligonucleotide probes in the reverse line blot assay. The Babesia divergens was detected by RT-PCR with the ABI Prism system.


B. burgdorferi s.l. was detected in all Lithuanian regions: WL – 7% (8/113), NL – 19% (98/525), SL – 15% (41/278) and EL – 10% (62/643) and common in country – 13% (209/1559). In the NL ticks are infected distinctly more. It could be explained by the zone of sympatry of few Ixodes species and biodiversity of vectors could cause intensity of infection. Of the 243 individually processed ticks, 5 (2%) were positive for Babesia divergens, 12 (5%) were positive for Ehrlichia/Anaplasma (HGE – 3, HGE variant – 1, E. schottii– 2 and 6 were not identified), 38 (16%) for Borrelia genotypes: an absolute domination of B. afzelii– 25 (66%) is observed; B. garinii– 12 (32%); B. burgdorferi s.s – 1 (3%). It is accordance with data from Baltic region of Russia (Kurish Spit) and Norway.


The known pathogenic species (Borrelia, Ehrlichia/Anaplasma and Babesia) found in Europe are also present in the Lithuanian host-seeking tick population. It was detected that B. afzelii was the dominant genospecies in Lithuanian ticks (10%) and Ehrlichia/Anaplasma and Babesia were found in ticks too and might cause human diseases.


The study was supported by the Lithuanian Science and Study Foundation.

Session Details

Date: 01/08/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: XXIst ISTH Congress
Location: Oxford, UK
Presentation type:
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