Seroprevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi in forest workers from inspectorates with different forest types in Lower Silesia, SW Poland: preliminary study.

Kiewra D, et al. Int J Environ Health Res. 2018.


To estimate the Lyme borreliosis (LB) risk for forest workers, totally 646 blood samples were tested for IgG and IgM anti-Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. (anti-B.b.) antibody occurrence using ELISA tests confirmed with western blot. To clarify the varied LB risk, additionally, the data from the Forest Data Bank determining the detailed forest habitat type in particular forest inspectorates were used. The occurrence of the anti-B.b. antibody was confirmed in 22% (8.7% IgM, 17.8% IgG) of forest workers. Analysis of the influence of the habitat type (forest types) indicated the significant positive impact of the occurrence of the deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests on the seroprevalence of anti-B.b. IgG level among forestry workers. However, the share of forest type cannot be the only factor taken into account when assessing risk.



IgM is the first antibody that the body produces in an acute infection or recent exposure. IgG refers to a later response.  These forest workers had more antibodies relating to older exposure.  It also makes sense that there would be a significant impact in deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests on seroprevalence.

For more on Bb in Poland:  The results of the study clearly show that ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi inhabit all regions of Poland. The results are consistent with National Institute of Hygiene data which indicates that Lyme disease cases are recorded in all regions of Poland.

More on forest workers:  Sixty-seven of the 310 workers were seropositive for Lyme disease (LD), leading to a seroprevalence of 21.6%. The seroprevalence was higher among forest workers visiting forests more frequently (P = 0.003) or who reported over 100 tick bites (P-value < 0.001). The intensity of tick bites and the use of protection measures against tick bites have a positive impact on LD seroprevalence while the quantity of shadow from trees at ground level had a negative one.  This study showed that forest workers are a population at risk for LD and, by extension, at risk for various tick-borne diseases. I