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Lyme borreliosis in dogs is complicated by the use of commercially available
Lyme disease vaccines that may cross-react with certain diagnostic assays. Western immunoblotting may be used to distinguish between dogs naturally exposed and those vaccinated against Borrelia burgdorferi. Because current vaccines are not 100% efficacious and dogs may be vaccinated after natural exposure, certain dogs may show serum antibody responses against both natural and vaccine exposure (dual status). In this study, samples from 17 nonexposed, 17 B. burgdorferi-bacterin vaccinated, 13 naturally exposed, and 8 dual-status dogs were tested by western immunoblot to determine if dual-status dogs could be reliably differentiated from naturally infected or vaccinated dogs. Reaction to outer surface protein A antigen of B. burgdorferi (31 kD) was a consistent marker for vaccination, appearing in all samples from vaccinate and dual-status dogs and in no samples from single-status naturally exposed dogs. Antibodies to 4 bands, at 80, 39, 29, and 28 kD, were present in all naturally infected and dual-status dogs. No samples from vaccinated or nonexposed dogs were reactive to all 4 of these bands simultaneously. Thus, vaccine and natural exposure produce differing antibody responses, whereas dual-status dogs produced the full antibody response of both types of exposure.