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In North America,
Lyme borreliosis (LB) is a tick-borne
disease caused by infection with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. We studied the genetic diversity of LB spirochetes in north-coastal California residents. Spirochete DNA was detected in 23.7% (27/114) of the study subjects using a PCR protocol optimized for increased sensitivity in human sera. Californians were most commonly infected with B. burgdorferi ospC genotype A, a globally widespread spirochete associated with high virulence in LB patients. Sequence analysis of rrf-rrl and p66 loci in 11% (3/27) of the PCR-positive study subjects revealed evidence of infection with an organism closely related to B. bissettii. This spirochete, heretofore associated with LB only in Europe, is widely distributed among ticks and wildlife in North America. Further molecular testing of sera from residents in areas where LB is endemic is warranted to enhance our understanding of the geographic distribution and frequency of occurrence of B. bissettii-like infections.