Epidemiological aspects of Borrelia spielmanii from Germany with special respect to its genetic heterogeneity

Abstract number: 1733_998

Fingerle V., Schulte-Spechtel U., Ruzic-Sabljic E., Strle F., Leonhard S., Hoffmann H., Weber K., Pfister K., Wilske B.

The Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex comprises at least 11 different species. Three of them –B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.), B. afzelii, and B. garinii – are known to cause human disease. In 1999 Wang et al. isolated a new B. burgdorferi genospecies – designated A14S – from a patient with erythema migrans which was recently confirmed as a new species and named B. spielmanii. Here we give data on the prevalence of this new species among European human isolates and in the tick vector collected from several Bavarian regions and provide data on its genetic heterogeneity.

A total of 2,155 ticks (136 larvae, 612 nymphs, 1,407 adults) from 8 Bavarian regions and 242 European patient isolates, primarily from Germany, were investigated by ospA-PCR followed by RFLP and/or sequencing of the amplicon. Out of 507 B. burgdorferi infected ticks 28 (6%) harboured B. spielmanii. Notably this genospecies was exclusively present in adult ticks. The by far highest B. spielmanii prevalence (18% of infected ticks) was present in the English Garden, a recreational area in the centre of Munich. In the 242 European patient isolates 4 (2%) B. spielmanii could be identified. Interestingly all isolates were cultured from Erythema migrans and all from patients from the Munich area.

To gain deeper insight into the genetic diversity of B. spielmanii, patient isolates (4 from Germany and 2 additional from Slovenia) and tick materials (n = 28) were subjected to further genetic analysis. Sequence identities were 99–100% for rrs, the inner part of fla and ospA, respectively, 96–100% for rrf-rrl, 66%-100% for dbpA, and 84%-100% for ospC. Four separate ospC and two dbpA clusters were distinguishable. Compared to the few sequences which have been to our disposal this heterogeneity is noteworthy and reveals that the new species B. spielmanii did not evolve just recently.

The results show that B. spielmanii is present possibly in a focal manner in Southern Germany and Slovenia and is able to cause human disease. Further studies on the prevalence of this species in ticks and clinical material are necessary to clarify its role.

Session Details

Date: 31/03/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: ICC, Munich, Germany
Presentation type:
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