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Int J Health Geogr 2002 Dec 20;1(1):5
Clinic for Internal Medicine, Soodstrasse 13, 8134 Adliswil, Switzerland.
Clusters by season and locality reveal a striking epidemiological overlap between sporadic schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis (MS). As the birth excesses of those individuals who later in life develop schizophrenia mirror the seasonal distribution of Ixodid ticks, a meta analysis has been performed between all neuropsychiatric birth excesses including MS and the epidemiology of spirochaetal infectious diseases.
The prevalence of MS and schizophrenic birth excesses entirely spares the tropical belt where human treponematoses are endemic, whereas in more temperate climates infection rates of Borrelia garinii in ticks collected from seabirds match the global geographic distribution of MS. If the seasonal fluctuations of Lyme borreliosis in Europe are taken into account, the birth excesses of MS and those of schizophrenia are nine months apart, reflecting the activity of Ixodes ricinus at the time of embryonic implantation and birth. In America, this nine months' shift between MS and schizophrenic births is also reflected by the periodicity of Borrelia burgdorferi transmitting Ixodes pacificus ticks along the West Coast and the periodicity of Ixodes scapularis along the East Coast. With respect to Ixodid tick activity, amongst the neuropsychiatric birth excesses only amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) shows a similar seasonal trend.
It cannot be excluded at present that maternal infection by Borrelia burgdorferi poses a risk to the unborn. The seasonal and geographical overlap between schizophrenia, MS and neuroborreliosis rather emphasises a causal relation that derives from exposure to a flagellar virulence factor at conception and delivery. It is hoped that the pathogenic correlation of spirochaetal virulence to temperature and heat shock proteins (HSP) might encourage a new direction of research in molecular epidemiology.