Blood Smears Have Poor Sensitivity for Confirming Borrelia miyamotoi Disease Bacteriology

Borrelia miyamotoi disease (BMD) is a newly recognized borreliosis that is cotransmitted by ticks wherever Lyme disease is zoonotic. Unlike Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the agent of Lyme disease, B. miyamotoi is closely related to relapsing fever spirochetes, such as Borrelia hermsii. Some authors have suggested that the disease caused by B. miyamotoi should be considered a hard-tick-transmitted relapsing fever, and thus, the main mode of confirming a diagnosis for that infection, microscopy to analyze a blood smear, may have clinical utility. To determine whether blood smears may detect B. miyamotoi in the blood of acute BMD patients, we made standard malariological thick smears from anticoagulated blood samples that were previously determined to contain this agent (by PCR) and analyzed them for morphological evidence of spirochetes. Spirochetes were not detected in the blood smears from 20 PCR positive patient blood samples after examination of 100 thick smear fields and only 2 of 20 demonstrated spirochetes when the examination was extended to 300 thick smear fields. Inoculation of severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice yielded isolates from 5 of 5 samples, but 0 of 3 BALB/c mice became infected. We conclude that in strong contrast to the diagnosis of typical relapsing fever, microscopy of blood smears is not sensitive enough for confirming a diagnosis of BMD but that SCID mouse inoculation could be a useful complement to PCR.
Source: Journal of Clinical Microbiology - Category: Microbiology Authors: Tags: Bacteriology Source Type: research

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