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For a better understanding of the persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) after antibiotic therapy the kinetics of killing B. burgdorferi s.l. under amoxicillin, doxycycline, cefotaxime, ceftriaxone, azithromycin and penicillin G were determined. The killing effect was investigated in MKP medium and human serum during a 72 h exposure to antibiotics. Twenty clinical isolates were used, including ten strains of Borrelia afzelii and ten strains of Borrelia garinii. The results show that the kinetics of killing borreliae differ from antibiotic to antibiotic. The killing rate of a given antibiotic is less dependent on the concentration of the antibiotic than on the reaction time. Furthermore, the data show that the strains of B. afzelii and B. garinii have a different reaction to antibiotics used in the treatment of
Lyme borreliosis and that different reactions to given antibiotics also exist within one species. The B. garinii strains appear to be more sensitive to antibiotics used in therapy. Furthermore, the persistence of B. burgdorferi s.l. and clinical recurrences in patients despite seemingly adequate antibiotic treatment is described. The patients had clinical
disease with or without diagnostic antibody titers to B. burgdorferi.