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Volume 12, Number 7—July 2006

Research

Migratory Passerine Birds as Reservoirs of Lyme Borreliosis in Europe

Pär Comstedt*, Sven Bergström*, Björn Olsen*†, Ulf Garpmo*‡, Lisette Marjavaara*, Hans Mejlon§, Alan G. Barbour¶, and Jonas Bunikis¶Comments to Author 
Author affiliations: *Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; †Kalmar University, Kalmar, Sweden; ‡Kalmar Hospital, Kalmar, Sweden; §Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; ¶University of California, Irvine, California, USA

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Table 1

Infestation of migratory birds by Ixodes ricinus ticks and tick infection with Lyme borreliosis group spirochetes, Ottenby Bird Observatory study, Sweden, 2001

Bird species* No. birds No. ticks No. (%) birds infested Mean no. ticks/ infested bird No. (%) birds with infected ticks No. larvae No. (%) positive larvae No. nymphs No. (%) positive nymphs
Ground foraging
Erithacus rubecula 3,939 446 185 (5) 2.4 20 (11) 296 6 (2) 150 15 (10)
Luscina luscinia 32 9 4 (13) 2.3 2 (50) 5 0 4 2 (50)
Luscina svecica 85 8 5 (6) 1.6 1 (20) 0 0 8 1 (13)
Turdus philomelus 261 141 24 (9) 5.9 10 (42) 88 14 (16) 53 17 (32)
Turdus iliacus 51 22 9 (18) 2.4 2 (22) 5 0 17 4 (24)
Turdus merula 193 170 44 (23) 3.9 15 (34) 36 11 (31) 134 28 (21)
Turdus pilaris 23 6 3 (13) 2 1 (33) 3 1 (33) 3 1 (33)
Sturnus vulgaris 30 18 9 (30) 2 2 (22) 7 3 (43) 11 4 (36)
Prunella modularis 64 9 4 (6) 2.3 1 (25) 2 0 7 1 (14)
Anthus trivialis 61 29 11 (18) 2.6 6 (55) 17 8 (47) 12 6 (50)
Aluada arvensis 1 6 1 (100) 6 1 (100) 6 1 (17) 0 0
Fringilla coelebs 122 9 2 (2) 4.5 1 (50) 8 8 (100) 1 0
Carduelis flammea 441 1 1 (0.2) 1 0 1 0 0 0
Carduelis spinus 79 1 1 (1) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Pyrrhula pyrrhula 55 8 5 (9) 1.6 2 (40) 1 0 7 2 (29)
Carduelis chloris 73 5 5 (7) 1 0 1 0 4 0
Carduelis cannabina 26 1 1 (4) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Carpodacus erythrinus 55 1 1 (2) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Emberiza schoeniclus 54 1 1 (2) 1 0 1 0 0 0
Troglodytes troglodytes 500 33 17 (3) 1.9 0 25 0 8 0
Acrocephalus palustris 30 1 1 (3) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Other
Accipiter nisus 54 2 1 (2) 2 0 0 0 2 0
Lanius collurio 169 7 2 (1) 3.5 0 4 0 3 0
Dendrocopus major 83 8 1 (1) 8 1 (100) 2 0 6 4 (67)
Hippolais icterina 87 15 2 (2) 7.5 0 15 0 0 0
Sylvia atricapilla 170 8 7 (4) 1.1 0 4 0 4 0
Sylvia borin 194 1 1 (0.5) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Sylvia curruca 621 11 8 (1) 1.4 2 (25) 4 0 7 2 (29)
Sylvia nisoria 13 4 3 (23) 1.3 0 1 0 3 0
Phylloscopus sibilatrix 65 1 1 (2) 1 0 1 0 0 0
Phylloscopus trochilus 2,116 21 19 (1) 1.1 1 (5) 9 0 12 1 (8)
Regulus regulus 2,212 1 1 (0.1) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Parus major 132 35 19 (14) 1.8 9 (47) 22 6 (27) 13 5 (39)
Parus caeruleus 541 9 6 (1) 1.5 0 1 0 8 0
Certhia familiaris 37 1 1 (3) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Phoenicurus phoenicurus 341 23 12 (4) 1.9 2 (17) 12 0 11 2 (18)
Sylvia communis 220 47 18 (8) 2.6 3 (17) 29 3 (10) 18 4 (22)
Acrocephalus scirpaceus 30 1 1 (3) 1 0 0 0 1 0
Total 13,260 1,120 437 (3) 2.6 82 (19) 606 61 (10) 514 99 (19)

*Ground-foraging species include invertebrate feeders (Erithacus rubecula through Sturnus vulgaris), insectivores (Prunella modularis and Anthus trivialis), granivores (Aluada arvensis through Emberiza schoeniclus), and herbaceous plant–foraging insectivores (Troglodytes troglodytes and Acrocephalus palustris). Other species include raptors (Accipiter nisus and Lanius collurio), arboreal insectivores (Dendrocopus major through Phoenicurus phoenicurus), and reed-foraging insectivores (Sylvia communis and Acrocephalus scirpaceus). The common names of the 38 bird species listed (from top to bottom) are European robin, thrush nightingale, bluethroat, song thrush, redwing thrush, blackbird, fieldfare, starling, dunnock, tree pipit, skylark, chaffinch, redpoll, siskin, bull finch, green finch, linnet, scarlet rosefinch, reed bunting, wren, marsh warbler, sparrow hawk, red-backed shrike, great spotted woodpecker, icterine warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, lesser whitethroat, barred warbler, wood warbler, willow warbler, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, tree creeper, redstart, whitethroat, and reed warbler.

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