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Lyme disease spirochetes of the genospecies Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato were identified and characterized for the first time in Taiwan. Seven isolates, designated TWKM1 to TWKM7, were purified from the ear tissues of three species of rodents captured from seven localities of Taiwan. The immunological characteristics of these Taiwan isolates were compared with those of other genospecies of
Lyme disease spirochetes by analyzing the protein profiles and reactivities with B. burgdorferi-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). The genospecies of these Taiwan isolates were also identified by the similarities in their plasmid profiles and differential reactivities with genospecies-specific PCR primers. Although two distinct protein profiles were observed among the seven Taiwan isolates, the MAb reactivities against the outer surface proteins of B. burgdorferi of all of these isolates were consistent with those of B. burgdorferi sensu lato. The similarities of the plasmid profiles also confirmed the identities of these Taiwan isolates. PCR analysis indicated that all of these Taiwan isolates were genetically related to the genospecies B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. These results demonstrate the first identification of
Lyme disease spirochetes in Taiwan and also highlight the increasing demand for defining the reservoirs and vector ticks of B. burgdorferi. A serosurvey for
Lyme disease infection in the human population of Taiwan may also be required.