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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective

To characterize the pathogenic potential of a unique Borrelia isolate obtained from a dog from Florida (FCB isolate).

Design

Prospective experimental infection.

Animals

32 preweanling Swiss Webster mice and 12 adult male Hartley guinea pigs were injected intraperitoneally with 105 spirochetes.

Procedure

Mice were used as controls and blood recipients, and at 3- to 4-day intervals, 1 control mouse and 2 infected mice were necropsied, tissues were cultured, and a recipient mouse was inoculated with blood. Guinea pigs were randomized to 4 groups and inoculated intradermally with 100, 102, 103, or 104 spirochetes. For 48 days, clinical, hematologic, serologic, and microbiologic tests were performed on them, after which they were necropsied.

Results

In mice, spirochetemia was detectable between postinoculation days (PID) 3 and 13, and seroreactivity to homologous antigen was detectable during PID 10 through 31. Compared with control mice, infected mouse spleens were 2 to 3 times larger. Histologic lesions included lymphoid hyperplasia, neutrophilic panniculitis, epicarditis, and myocarditis, with intralesional spirochetes detected from PID 3 through 6. During PID 10 through 31, nonsuppurative epicarditis developed. Signs of illness and hematologic abnormalities were not observed in guinea pigs, despite isolating spirochetes from blood during PID 7 to 27. When necropsied on PID 48, histologic lesions included lymphoid hyperplasia and lymphocytic plasmacytic epicarditis.

Conclusions

The FCB isolate causes spirochetemia, lymphoid hyperplasia, dermatitis, and myocardial injury in Swiss Webster mice and can be transmitted by blood inoculation. In Hartley guinea pigs, the isolate causes spirochetemia, lymphoid hyperplasia, and epicarditis. Documentation of disease in mice, guinea pigs, and, presumably, dogs raises the level of concern that the FCB isolate might be pathogenic for man and other animal species. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:505–511)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research