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A serological study of cohorts of young dogs, naturally exposed to Ixodes ricinus ticks, indicates seasonal reinfection by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato.

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Abstract

Thirty-three family dogs were monitored for antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato over a 3-year period. Serum samples were collected before and during the season of high tick activity. Antibody levels were measured with an ELISA based on whole-cell antigens and an ELISA with a purified recombinant flagellin (r410). Antibody levels measured with the whole-cell ELISA increased after the first exposure to ticks. Following the first seasonal period of tick quiescence, antibody levels decreased, and subsequently increased again in the second tick season. Thereafter whole-cell ELISA titres persisted at moderate levels and did not decrease between tick seasons. The recombinant flagellin ELISA did not show a strong response in the first tick season, but did in the second tick season and levels of antibodies continued to fluctuate thereafter. We conclude that most dogs in this study developed an antibody response against Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato after their first tick infestation and were thereafter repeatedly immunologically stimulated, probably reinfected, during the consecutive tick seasons.

Vet Q. 1999 Jan;21(1):16-20.

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