Serum specimens from 163 persons with Lyme disease, tick-borne or louse-borne relapsing fever, yaws, syphilis, leptospirosis, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever were analyzed to assess the specificity of indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) tests, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and microscopic agglutination (MA) procedures. Strong cross-reactivity occurred when sera from individuals with Lyme disease, tick-borne relapsing fever, and louse-borne relapsing fever were tested against heterologous Borrelia antigens. Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi bound to Treponema pallidum in immunofluorescence tests for syphilis. Sera from subjects with syphilis cross-reacted in IFA tests and the ELISA for Lyme disease. Immunoglobulin antibodies to Borrelia or Treponema spirochetes, however, did not react with serovars of Leptospira interrogans in MA or IFA tests, and the prevalence of false-positive results in the reciprocal analyses was negligible.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
J Infect Dis. 1987 Jul;156(1):183-8.