Blood samples were collected from cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) between 1977 and 1991 in southern Connecticut and New York State (USA) and were tested for antibodies against eight strains of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Among these spirochetes were six strains of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, one strain of B. garinii (=IP90) and a strain (IPF) in group VS461. Sera from each study group reacted positively to all strains having origins in North America and Eurasia. Assay sensitivities normally ranged between 85% and 100% for all study groups. The lowest sensitivity (66%) was noted when mouse sera were tested with B. garinii, an isolate from Ixodes persulcatus in the former Soviet Union. Differences in serum reactivity to various strains were noted for all study groups, but because of multiple shared antigens among the closely related spirochetes tested, the selection of a particular North American strain of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto did not appear to be a critical factor for optimal assay performance. Locally obtained strains of this bacterium are preferred as coating antigens for serologic testing because of their availability.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2