Lyme disease was reproduced in specific pathogen-free beagle dogs by exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi-infected ticks (Ixodes dammini). Seroconversion and disease frequency were higher after exposure to infected adult ticks than to infected nymphs. Young pups developed clinical disease more readily than older dogs. The incubation period lasted 2-5 months. Acute recurrent lameness with fibrinopurulent arthritis was the dominant clinical sign. Dogs recovered but developed persistent mild polyarthritis. B. burgdorferi persisted in recovered dogs for at least 1 year. Isolation of B. burgdorferi and detection by polymerase chain reaction was most successful from skin biopsies at the site of the tick bite. Antibody to B. burgdorferi antigens was first detected by ELISA and Western blots by 4-6 weeks after exposure. High serum levels persisted during 17 months of observation. In contrast to infection from ticks, inoculation of dogs with cultured B. burgdorferi resulted in seroconversion with a shorter duration of antibody persistence and no clinical disease.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 167, Issue 3, March 1993, Pages 651–654