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Studies on frequencies of serum antibodies to outer surface proteins (Osps) in
Lyme disease have produced conflicting results. Osp antigens (A, B, and C) enriched by butanol extraction, which aids band identification in immunoblotting, were used to test sera for IgG antibody to Osp antigens from Borrelia burgdorferi isolates from each subspecies (sensu stricto, afzelii, and garinii). Individual isolates were selected to include all five known European OspA genotypes. Of arthritis sera, 83% (n=29), and of acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans sera, 81% (n=26), recognized OspA, B, and/or C. Of erythema migrans sera, 23% recognized OspA and/or B and a further 15% OspC alone. Only 5 (6%) of 86 sera (4 arthritis, 1 acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, 0 erythema migrans) recognized all five OspA phenotypes tested. Marked differences in the reactions of individual sera to the various Osp antigens were seen, which helps reveal the causes of discrepancies between previous reports.