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Several distinct rheumatic conditions (including
Lyme arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome and rheumatic fever) as well as certain forms of the blinding
disease, uveitis, may share a common etiology. In each instance specific bacterial pathogens may infect a distant site, which on interaction with the immune system, leads to a sterile inflammation in the joint or eye. These "reactive" conditions may result, in some cases, from prior localization of non-viable bacterial remnants (including the cell wall or peptidoglycan) or alternatively "dormant" fastidious bacteria in the affected joint or eye where they act as persisting antigens. Classical culture techniques, would not detect the presence of these putative microbial antigens. Alternative approaches for detection of ubiquitous components of bacteria in the host (using appropriate chemical, molecular and immunological techniques) are discussed.