Vectors of tick-borne diseases and epidemiological situation in Latvia in 1993-2002

Antra Bormane, Irina Lucenko, Arnis Duks, Violeta Mavtchoutko, Renate Ranka, Kristine Salmina, Viesturs Baumanis
International Journal of Medical Microbiology: IJMM 2004, 293: 36-47
During the period of 1993-2002 an increase and the remarkable changes in the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme borreliosis (LB) as well as annual activities of vector species were noticed. The highest increase of TBE morbidity in Latvia has been observed in 1994 and 1995, and less expressed also in 1998 which was followed by a significant decrease during subsequent years. Whereas the highest peak of LB morbidity has been noticed in 1998 with only a minor decrease during subsequent years. Two epidemiologically significant Ixodes tick species are common in Latvia. Ixodes ricinus L. spread in the western and central part of Latvia; but rarely and in small numbers also in the eastern part. Ixodes persulcatus P. Sch. seems to dominate only in the eastern part of the country. The changes of seasonal and annual activities of I. ricinus were observed in two types of monitoring sites--sylvatic and peridomestic, located in the central part of Latvia. Observations of I. persulcatus were made in the eastern districts. Comparing geographically the Tick-borne diseases (TBD) incidence data for three tick distribution regions (I. ricinus dominated, I. persulcatus dominated and mixed regions), it was observed that the trend of annual changes in LB incidence during the last decade is almost of the same kind for all regions. Whereas TBE incidence extremes in 1994 and 1995 were observed almost only in I. ricinus dominated region. The annual field-collected adult tick infection rate with TBE virus (TBEV) from 1993 to 2002 for I. ricinus adults varied between 1.7% and 26.6% and for I. persulcatus--between 0% and 37.3%. The infection level in ticks removed from humans was much higher and from 1998 to 2002 surpassed 30%. TBEV investigations of removed adults and nymphs in 2002 discovered a high TBEV prevalence also in I. ricinus nymphs (43%). Typing of TBE virus isolated from ticks and patient serum samples in collaboration with German and Swedish virologists revealed that all three TBEV subtypes were co-circulating in Latvia. The mean annual tick infection rate with Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. analysed by means of a nested polymerase chain reaction of OspA gene fragment during the period of 1999-2001 was 18%-38% for I. ricinus adults and 25%-51% for I. persulcatus adults. Typing of Borrelia-positive DNA samples indicated that B. afzelii was dominant in Borrelia-positive I. ricinus (64.9%) and I. persulcatus (81.2%) followed by B. garinii (I. ricinus: 24.3%; in I. persulcatus: 14.5%). Investigations of Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroup (by nested PCR targeted the 16S rRNA gene) revealed the presence of Ehrlichia sp. in I. ricinus from the central part of Latvia. Obtained data on TBD vectors and the epidemiological situation during the last decade indicates the complex impact of different factors influencing TBE and LB morbidity in Latvia.

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