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To characterize the serologic responses of dogs naturally exposed to or vaccinated against Borrelia burgdorferi and to assess responses at intervals after antibiotic treatment.
Prospective, controlled clinical trial.
19 dogs of various breeds and ages with narrowly defined clinical criteria of limb/joint borreliosis and 10 control dogs of equivalent age were used to determine serologic responses following natural exposure to the organism. Eight seronegative dogs were used to determine serologic responses following vaccination.
Serologic responses to B burgdorferi and recombinant outer surface protein (Osp)A, flagellin, and P39 were assessed by means of ELISA and western immunoblot. Passive protective activity was assessed by use of a mouse protection assay.
Naturally exposed dogs were seropositive, but had variable ELISA titers and immunoblot profiles. Immunoblot analysis did reveal consistent reactions to flagellin, P39, and a 22 kd protein, but not to OspA. Antibody responses did not change appreciably up to 13 weeks after antibiotic treatment. Vaccinated dogs had strong reactions to OspA and OspB, but not to P39.
Dogs with clinical borreliosis are seropositive and remain seropositive after antibiotic treatment, emphasizing that serologic testing is not a useful means of measuring clinical response. Serologic responses of infected dogs can be discriminated from those of vaccinated dogs by means of immunoblot analysis, and recombinant P39 is a potentially useful antigen for that purpose.