Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of
Lyme disease, was isolated from 15 of 17 white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and 54 of 82 subadult Ixodes dammini from Fort McCoy, Wis. Of the 47 isolates tested, all reacted in indirect fluorescent-antibody tests with monoclonal antibodies directed against a surface protein of B. burgdorferi (approximate molecular weight, 31,000) and flagellins that are common to all Borrelia species. Indirect fluorescent-antibody reactions were variable when an antibody that binds to a surface protein with an approximate molecular weight of 34,000 was tested. The major proteins of isolates from ticks and mice had approximate molecular weights of 31,000, 34,000, and 41,000. Antibodies to B. burgdorferi were present (titer, greater than or equal to 1:64) in 16 of 97 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). The mean number of subadult I. dammini on mice captured in June 1986 was 6.5, and the mean number of adult I. dammini on deer killed in November 1986 was 5.9. The presence of ticks and the high prevalence of I. dammini and mice infected with B. burgdorferi establish that Fort McCoy is an area in which the
Lyme disease agent is highly endemic, even though there have been relatively few documented cases in humans. The low number of reported cases in humans may be a result of National Guard and reserve unit personnel returning home to civilian life and having symptoms expressed subsequently, or it could be due to misdiagnosis or nonreporting.