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Lyme arthritis was first described in the United States, it has now been reported in many countries of Europe. However, very few strains of the causative bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, have been isolated from synovial samples. For this reason, different molecular direct typing methods were developed recently to assess which species could be involved in
Lyme arthritis in Europe. We developed a simple oligonucleotide typing method with PCR fragments from the flagellin gene of B. burgdorferi sensu lato, which is able to differentiate seven different Borrelia species. Among 10 consecutive PCR-positive patients with
Lyme arthritis from the northeastern France, two species were identified in synovial samples: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto in 9 cases and B. garinii in 1 case. Conversely, all B. burgdorferi sensu lato species detected in 10 consecutive PCR-positive biopsies from a second set of patients with erythema migrans from the same geographical area were identified as either B. afzelii or B. garinii (P < 0.001). These results indicate that B. burgdorferi sensu stricto is the principal but not the only Borrelia species involved in
Lyme arthritis in northeastern France.