Without antibiotic treatment, the Lyme-disease–causing bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi can be cultured from the peripheral blood of human patients nearly 6 wk post-tick bite. To determine if Lyme disease spirochetes can be transmitted from a spirochetemic donor mouse to a naive recipient during blood transfusion, blood taken from immunocompetent infected mice was transfused into either immunodeficient (SCID) mice, inbred immunocompetent animals (C3H/HeJ), or outbred mice. Nine of 19 (47.7%) immunodeficient mice, 7 of 15 (46.8%) inbred immunocompetent mice, and 6 of 10 (60.0%) outbred mice became infected with B. burgdorferi after transfusion. Our results indicate that it is possible to acquire B. burgdoferi infection via transfused blood in a mouse model of Lyme borreliosis.

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