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Coinfection with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia garinii alters the course of murine Lyme borreliosis.

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Ixodes ricinus ticks and mice can be infected with both Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia garinii. The effect of coinfection with these two Borrelia species on the development of murine
Lyme borreliosis is unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether coinfection with the nonarthritogenic B. garinii strain PBi and the arthritogenic B. burgdorferi sensu stricto strain B31 alters murine
Lyme borreliosis. Mice simultaneously infected with PBi and B31 showed significantly more paw swelling and arthritis, long-standing spirochetemia, and higher numbers of B31 spirochetes than did mice infected with B31 alone. However, the number of PBi spirochetes was significantly lower in coinfected mice than in mice infected with PBi alone. In conclusion, simultaneous infection with B. garinii and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto results in more severe
Lyme borreliosis. Moreover, we suggest that competition of the two Borrelia species within the reservoir host could have led to preferential maintenance, and a rising prevalence, of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto in European I. ricinus populations.

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2007 Mar;49(2):224-34. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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