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Systemic disease in Peromyscus leucopus associated with Borrelia burgdorferi infection.

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Abstract

Sixteen wild Peromyscus leucopus, trapped for the establishment of a breeding colony, developed signs of neurological damage (trembling, incoordination, circling, head tilt, and lameness of the rear legs) 2-47 days after capture in southern Wisconsin. Spirochetes were cultured from the brain of 5/11 mice, and Borrelia burgdorferi was cultured from 1 brain. A spirochete was isolated from the bladder of 1 mouse. The spirochete was identified by fluorescent antibody staining with the monoclonal antibody specific for B. burgdorferi, H5332. Serum antibodies to the spirochete were found in 14/15 mice. Negative results were obtained in all tests for viruses and bacteria, including Listeria (2/2), Mycoplasma (2/2), mouse hepatitis virus (10/10), Theilers’s encephalomyelitis virus (GD VII) (8/8), REO 3 virus (2/2), and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (4/4). There was no bacterial growth from brains cultured on eosin methylene blue or blood agar (3/3). Histologic lesions included nonsuppurative cellular infiltrates in the brain, kidney, liver, and lung. Three outbred Swiss-Webster mice were inoculated orally with a suspension of the brain in BSKII medium, and 3 were inoculated with unpassed B. burgdorferi cultured from the brain of a P. leucopus with motor dysfunction. Five of the inoculated mice developed antibody titers of 1:128; one mouse was positive at 1:256. Motor signs of neurologic damage developed in 3/6 mice 2-24 weeks post-inoculation, and B. burgdorferi was detected in the brains of 2 mice by isolation and by fluorescent antibody.

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1990 Mar;42(3):254-9. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, Non-P.H.S.

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