Saturday, May 31, 2014

Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in museum specimens of Peromyscus leucopus.

This is an old study (1994) but interesting nonetheless.


 1994 Oct;170(4):1027-32.

Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in museum specimens of Peromyscus leucopus.

Author information

  • 1Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.


To determine whether Borrelia burgdorferi was enzootic within the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, ear skin samples taken from museum specimens of the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) were examined for evidence of spirochetal DNA. In total, 280 samples from mice collected between 1870 and 1919 were analyzed by a nested polymerase chain reaction protocol. Of these, 2 specimens from the vicinity of Dennis, Massachusetts, during 1894 were reproducibly positive for B. burgdorferi OspA sequences. The remaining 278, representing both currently endemic and nonendemic sites, were negative for spirochetal DNA. These studies suggest that the agent of Lyme disease was present in a suitable reservoir host in the United States before the turn of the century and provide evidence against a hypothesis of recent introduction of this zoonotic agent to North America.

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