Funded by FCT, the first study conducted in Portugal on the role of common birds in the spread of Lyme disease (borreliosis) revealed that the blackbird is one of the main reservoir hosts of the bacteria responsible for this disease. If not treated in a timely manner, Lyme disease causes severe damage to the neurological, dermatological, and joint systems. The bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. is transmitted by ticks, and researchers from the University of Coimbra, the Center for the Study of Vectors and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), have detected the presence of the bacterium in parasitic ticks of several bird species in Portugal, including the blackbird.
According to Cláudia Norte, team coordinator, "This research provides valuable information to define risk areas and the factors that influence the emergence of tick-borne pathologies and eventually prevent disease outbreaks." The results were published in the international scientific journals Experimental and Applied Acarology and Environmental Microbiology.