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During 1984 and 1985, blood samples were obtained from 271 dogs that were suspected of having borreliosis. The dogs lived in areas known to be infested with ticks and had been examined because of limb/joint disorders or for unknown illnesses marked by fever, anorexia, or fatigue. Lameness had been the most frequently reported clinical manifestation. Analyses of serum specimens, by an indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) method or by an ELISA, detected antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of borreliosis in dogs and of
Lyme disease in human beings. Antibody to B burgdorferi was detected in 76.3% of 114 specimens from dogs living in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York State (predominantly Westchester County), in 66.5% of 155 specimens from dogs from southern Connecticut, and in single specimens from dogs from Rhode Island and California. Geometric mean antibody titers peaked during the winter. Results of IFA tests and ELISA were in agreement, but the latter method yielded less variable results, had greater sensitivity, and was more easily standardized. Five dogs from New York State and Connecticut seropositive to B burgdorferi had developed kidney disorders during or after episodes of intermittent lameness. Application of murine monoclonal antibody in an IFA procedure verified the presence of B burgdorferi in renal cortical tissues from one dog.