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In an initial experiment, culture-grown Borrelia burgdorferi was added to freshly collected uninfected human blood. This in vitro study demonstrated that more spirochetes were distributed into the plasma than into the serum fraction. In a subsequent clinical study, B. burgdorferi was recovered from plasma cultures of approximately 50% of 42 patients with early
Lyme disease associated with erythema migrans. The rate of recovery from plasma cultures was significantly greater than that from serum cultures (P < 0.001).