During 1998–1999, Ixodes ricinus (L.) populations were investigated in three different biotopes (deciduous, mixed, coniferous forest) situated in popular recreational areas in Poznań, Poland. In total, 1,123 questing ticks (1,002 nymphs, 69 males, 52 females) were collected by flagging vegetation. Additionally, in 1998 between May and September small rodents were trapped and inspected for feeding ticks. Altogether, 213 rodents of three species: Apodemus agrarius Pall., A. flavicollis Melchior, Clethrionomys glareolus Schreber were captured. Of 323 engorged ticks, 304 were larvae and 19 nymphs. All ticks collected from vegetation, as well as from rodents were examined for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigenwalt & Brenner s.l. spirochetes by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) using PAB 1B29. The seasonal pattern of activity of questing I. ricinus was always bimodal (May/June and August/September). The most abundant tick population occurred in the deciduous forest. The total infection rate in questing ticks was 16.2%. Differences in mean infection prevalence of host-seeking ticks between three biotopes each year were not significant. On average more larvae parasitized on the genus of Apodemus than on C. glareolus. 17.8% of larvae and 31.6% of nymphs fed on rodents harbored spirochetes. The three rodent species contributed to a different degree in to transmission of the pathogen to subadult stages. ≈27% of larvae infested on A. agrarius, 22% on C. glareolus, and only 4.2% on A. flavicollis contained spirochetes. The results suggest that the prevalence of A. agrarius and C. glareolus in disturbed urban forests used for leisure activities seems to be crucial for the maintenance of B. burgdorferi s.l. in I. ricinus populations.
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Vol. 40 • No. 5