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Detection of borreliacidal antibodies is an accurate serodiagnostic test for confirmation of
Lyme disease in humans. In this study, 13 pathogen-free beagles, 12 to 26 weeks old, were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by tick challenge. Dogs were monitored for clinical signs and symptoms of
Lyme disease along with borreliacidal antibody production against B. burgdorferi sensu stricto isolates 297 and 50772. Ten (77%) dogs developed lameness in one or more legs within 210 days after attachment of Ixodes scapularis ticks. Eight (80%) of the lame animals had concurrent fever of > or =38 degrees C. Spirochetes were also recovered from the skin and joints of 12 (92%) dogs, but rarely from other organs. Borreliacidal antibodies against B. burgdorferi isolate 297 were detected in only four (31%) dogs, and the levels of killing antibodies remained low for the duration of the infection. In contrast, borreliacidal antibodies against B. burgdorferi isolate 50772 were detected in 13 (100%) dogs within 21 days of infection. Furthermore, the borreliacidal antibody levels correlated with the severity of B. burgdorferi infection. Detection of borreliacidal antibodies, especially against B. burgdorferi isolate 50772, is also a reliable serodiagnostic test for detection of
Lyme disease in dogs.