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Epidemiologic studies of Lyme disease in horses and their public health significance.

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Abstract

A serologic survey of horses in the New Jersey-Pennsylvania area demonstrated that about 10% (6.2-14.2%) have significant levels of serum antibody to Borrelia burgdorferi. However, in a highly endemic area of central New Jersey, up to 60% of the mares and yearlings samples on one farm were seropositive. In 1983, sera from this same farm exhibited only 12% positives in mares and 35% positives in yearlings. Longitudinal studies of paired sera obtained from individual yearlings over a 6-month period in 1985 showed that 34% of them declined during the period. A new clinical syndrome associated with this farm has been observed in 1985-87. In 1985 only an edema of the legs and a dermatitis were noted, in 19.2% of the foals. There was a clustering of cases on one site, where one peer group of foals was sequestered after weaning, which suggested a point source of infection other than arthropods. In 1986, 14.6% of the foals were affected, four of them with arthritis, two of which resisted antibiotic treatment for over several months’ time. Experimental infection of a pony with triturated B. burgdorferi infected tick material indicated low specific antibody levels starting about the ninth day that continued for a 3-week period. When this animal was challenged 6 months later with primary B. burgdorferi cultures, a rapid and significant booster effect was evidenced within 4 days.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1988;539:244-57.

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