Septfons et al.
Seroprevalence for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and tick-borne encephalitis virus antibodies and associated risk factors among forestry workers in northern France, 2019 to 2020
Euro Surveill. 2023;28(32):pii=2200961. doi:10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2023.28.32.2200961

Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most common tick-borne disease in France (and in Europe). LB is diagnosed in every French region with an incidence of nearly 100 per 100,000 inhabitants. TBE virus infections are much less commonly reported in France – about 10 yearly cases, mostly in the Alsace region (eastern France, neighboring Germany).

A cross-sectional seroprevalence study has been carried out in northern France to assess antibodies against LB and TBE in forestry workers in 2019/2020. Serological test results were available from 1,777 participants. Borrelia IgG antibodies were detected in 15.5% of forestry workers. A west/east gradient for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato seroprevalence was observed ranging from 5.5% in western regions to 21.3% in eastern regions.

The seroprevalence for TBE was estimated to be 0.14% (confirmed by neutralization test, no TBE vaccination, no other flavivirus infections). These forestry workers worked in the Franche-Comté region (eastern part of France), Pays-de-la-Loire region (western France) and in Poitou-Charentes and Centre regions.

The recent introduction of mandatory notification of TBE in France will help to follow incidence trends and to identify new geographical risk areas and risk factors. In France, TBE vaccination is currently recommended to travelers to rural or forestry endemic areas in Europe from spring to autumn, and these recommendations could be re-evaluated in light of future surveillance data or seroepidemiological studies.

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