Reported cases of
Lyme disease (a chronic
disease caused by infection with Borrelia burgdorferi) in humans increased more than two-fold between 1992 and 2006 in the United States. Recently, the annual number of reported human
Lyme disease cases stabilized (according to the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention) but the geographic distribution seemed to increase. In New York (NY) State, USA, a spread from the original
Lyme disease focus in southeastern parts of the state has occurred. We determined incidence risks of new companion animal infection in 2011 with B. burgdorferi by county in 451 dog and 2100 horse sera; the samples were non-randomly collected by referring veterinarians in NY State between June 15, 2011 and January 31, 2012 because of suspicion of infection with B. burgdorferi or during annual health checks. All samples were submitted to the New York State Animal Health Center; the samples were submitted from 50 out of 62 counties in the state. Incident infections were determined by measuring antibodies to outer surface protein C (OspC; a marker of early infection that is detectable in serum from 3 weeks to 5 months after infection). Incident infections with B. burgdorferi were detected in 23% (95% confidence interval (CI): 19, 27) of canine samples and in 8% (95%CI: 7, 10) of equine samples. In 21 counties, samples were submitted from only one species (i.e. only dogs or only horses) that indicated incident infection. Recognition of incidence infections in dogs and horses might serve as a sentinel for infected ticks in different NY State counties; detection of the OspC antigen can provide a sensitive, new tool to allow recognition of risk for possible human and animal infection with B. burgdorferi by geographic region. We recommend that both dogs and horses be part of such a passive surveillance system.
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