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The tick-borne bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (sl) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum have been suspected to cause neurological signs in dogs. Diagnosis often has been made based on positive antibody titers in serum of dogs with neurological signs, but a high seroprevalence in dogs in at-risk populations makes diagnosis difficult.
To determine if the neurological signs in dogs examined were caused by any of these bacteria.
Fifty-four dogs presented to a board-certified neurologist.
Prospective study. We divided dogs into 2 groups: those with inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) and those with neurological signs from other diseases. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from all dogs were analyzed.
Dogs with inflammatory CNS diseases showed no serum antibodies against any of the agents. Among dogs with neurological signs from other diseases, 10.3% had serum antibodies for B. burgdorferi sl and 20.5% for A. phagocytophilum. All blood samples analyzed for bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and all CSF analyzed for antibodies and bacterial DNA for the 2 agents were negative.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE:
Based on this study, these bacteria are unlikely causes of neurologic
disease in dogs and the presence of serum antibodies alone does not document or establish a definitive diagnosis of CNS
disease caused by these organisms. Dogs that have neurologic
disease and corresponding serum antibodies against these agents should have additional tests performed to assess for other potential etiologies of the signs.