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Association of specific subtypes of Borrelia burgdorferi with hematogenous dissemination in early Lyme disease.

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To investigate whether genetic diversity of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto may affect the occurrence of hematogenous dissemination, 104 untreated adults with erythema migrans from a
Lyme disease diagnostic center in Westchester County, New York, were studied. Cultured skin isolates were classified into 3 groups by a polymerase chain reaction amplification and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method. A highly significant association between infecting RFLP type in skin and the presence of spirochetemia was found (P<.001). The same association existed for the presence of multiple erythema migrans lesions (P=.045), providing clinical corroboration that hematogenous dissemination is related to the genetic subtype of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. There were no significant associations between RFLP type and seropositivity or clinical symptoms and signs except for a history of fever and chills (P=.033). These results suggest that specific genetic subtypes of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto influence
disease pathogenesis. Infection with different subtypes of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto may help to explain differences in the clinical presentation of patients with
Lyme disease.

J Infect Dis. 1999 Sep;180(3):720-5. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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