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Novel Borrelia burgdorferi isolates from Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes dentatus ticks feeding on humans.

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Seven cultures of Borrelia burgdorferi differing from strains B31 and ZS7 were identified from among 99 isolates from Ixodes scapularis ticks and from white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and 1 isolate from an Ixodes dentatus tick. Five of the six novel isolates from I. scapularis and the isolate from I. dentatus were from ticks feeding on humans. The six isolates from I. scapularis lacked OspA and OspB, four possessed an OspD band, and two reacted with an anti-OspC monoclonal antibody. Restriction fragment length polymorphisms of HindIII-digested DNAs from six OspA-negative isolates did not hybridize with radiolabeled ospA or LA88 DNA, and only isolate 46047 hybridized with the pG gene. Fragments similar to those recorded for the standard B. burgdorferi sensu stricto strains B31 and ZS7 were obtained with the fla and the HSP70 genes. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of DNA digested with MluI included the specific B. burgdorferi sensu stricto band at 135 kbp for the five OspA-negative isolates from I. scapularis ticks. The six novel isolates apparently lack the 55-kbp plasmid encoding OspA. The pG-containing plasmid may be missing from all but isolate 46047. The isolate from the I. dentatus tick was similar to previous isolates from I. dentatus ticks feeding on rabbits. None of the isolates could be recovered from inoculated C3H/HeNCrlBR or white-footed mice. All isolates reacted with sera from humans with early or late
Lyme disease. Our studies demonstrate that these borreliae occur in ticks feeding on humans, and therefore, at least some humans in the northeastern United States are likely being exposed to borreliae other than the classic B31-type strains that have thus far been isolated from humans.

J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Mar;34(3):524-9. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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