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Lyme borreliosis is regarded as one of the most important zoonotic diseases, in Europe very few research reports have documented examinations on free-ranging wild animal populations and no study on zoo animals has been published. One of the problems regarding the diagnosis of
Lyme borreliosis in wild animals is often the lack of species specific secondary antibodies for serological tests. For our study on exposure of zoo animals to Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi s. l. and the occurrence of
Lyme borreliosis in various German zoos, a non-species dependent ELISA was developed. Specific IgG antibodies against B. burgdorferi s. l. were detected by peroxidase labeled protein A or protein G conjugates. For this purpose, both conjugates were tested for their binding affinities to 160 different wild animal species representing 25 families and 7 orders. With 2 exceptions, all tested species reacted with either protein A or protein G, and 47 species reacted with both conjugates. In combination with an easy method for the long-term preservation of antigen-coated microtiter plates, the ELISA developed for this study could essentially facilitate serological examinations regarding
Lyme borreliosis in wild animal sera. In summary, the results indicate commercially available protein A and protein G conjugates as useful alternatives to species specific secondary antibodies in various diagnostic assays on sera of a wide range of wild mammals. Therefore, this should be considered more often as versatile diagnostic tools in wildlife studies.