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Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of
Lyme disease, was first isolated in 1982 and since then has been regularly isolated from ticks and clinical material in both Continental Europe and the USA. However, only three isolations have been reported in Britain. During the summer of 1997, 128 ticks were collected from two sites in the Highlands of Scotland and examined by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and culture. Eleven fresh isolates were obtained from culture and passed up to 22 times. Seven of the tick emulsions were also positive by flagellin gene PCR, and a further one was positive by PCR but negative on culture. All 11 isolate cultures were positive by the flagellin gene PCR. Further studies on four of these isolates confirmed their identity by immunofluorescence, but also detected possible differences between them and B. burgdorferi ACA-1 by enzyme profiles and by PCR with OspA gene primers. Culture of these new strains provides antigens that should improve diagnostic serological tests in Britain.