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Existing knowledge on reservoir hosts of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato was collated and reviewed and several species, particularly birds, were identified as reservoir competent. At the present time, 9 small mammals, 7 medium-sized mammals and 16 bird species, including passerines, sea birds and pheasants, appear to be capable of transmitting spirochaetes to ticks and thus of participating in the natural circulation of B. burgdorferi s.l. in Europe. The house mouse, Mus musculus is strongly suspected of reservoir competence and many other small rodent species, particularly in eastern Europe and Russia, have been implicated. Ungulates are not thought to play a major role as reservoir hosts, though co-feeding transmission may permit some tick infection. The criteria for establishment of reservoir status are outlined and a method for identification of host blood meals of previous instars of unfed ticks, developed in a participant laboratory, is briefly described.


Journal article


Zentralbl Bakteriol

Publication Date





196 - 204


Animals, Birds, Borrelia burgdorferi Group, Disease Reservoirs, Europe, Lyme Disease, Mammals, Ticks