A Longitudinal Survey of Borrelia crocidurae Prevalence in Rodents and Insectivores in Senegal

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  • Laboratoire de Paludologie, ORSTOM, Programme Eau et Sante, ORSTOM, Dakar, Senegal

We report results of a longitudinal survey designed to determine the importance and the dynamics of Borrelia crocidurae, the spirochete responsible for tick-borne relapsing fever in West Africa in rodents and insectivores in a rural area of northern Senegal. A total of 954 animals were caught during bimonthly capture sessions over a two-year period. Positive thick blood smears were recorded in 17.6% of the 740 rodents and 7.3% of the 55 musk shrews tested. Variations of prevalence were analyzed in Arvicanthis niloticus and Mastomys huberti, which represented 62.7% and 28.3%, respectively, of the animals captured, and 65.7% and 27.6%, respectively, of the animals found infected. Borrelia crocidurae prevalence was significantly different between captures and fluctuated separately for each species. Age-specific prevalence of B. crocidurae showed distinct patterns, decreasing with age from 50% in younger juveniles to 3% in older adults for A. niloticus, while increasing with age from 8% to 23% for M. huberti. No relationship was observed with animal abundance or with the season of the year for either species. These findings suggest that the diversity of the population dynamics of host-vector-parasite associations in the Sahel region of Senegal may be a key factor for the relative stability of the borreliosis reservoir.

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