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To improve yield, 6 3-mL plasma cultures (18 mL total) were established for adult patients with early
Lyme disease associated with erythema migrans. Borrelia burgdorferi was recovered from the blood of 22 (44.0%) of 50 evaluable patients. The recovery rate per plasma culture and the frequency of positive results for plasma cultures for individual patients were consistent with a level of spirochetemia of approximately 0.1 cultivable cell/mL of whole blood. Our findings suggest that, if further improvements in the yield of blood cultures are possible, they probably will depend on enhancing the sensitivity of the culture method rather than increasing the volume of material cultured.