Borrelia spp

From Dog
Borrelia spp under light microscopy[1]

Borrelia spp are a Gram-negative, tick-borne zoonotic hemotropic parasitic proteobacteria which causes Lyme Disease of dogs in the United Kingdom[2], Asia[3] and North and South America, predominantly in the Central and Eastern regions of the continent[4].

Transmission is commonly observed via Ixodes scapularis[5] and Amblyomma americanum[6] ticks in endemic regions.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

Co-infections with other hemoplasmas such as Anaplasma spp and Ehrlichia spp is common[10]. In many routine surveys of wild canids, Dirofilaria spp is also detected on routine blood sampling[11].

Lyme borreliosis is a multi-systemic disease that invades the skin, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems[12]. This parasite, although associated with neurological symtpoms in some dogs, does not appear to have a direct role in etiopathogenesis of neurological signs[13].

Clinical signs associated with anaplasmosis include fever, arthropathy[14] and nephritis in some cases[15]. Central nervous system involvement, heart block, and uveitis are less frequently reported in dogs[16].

Hematological changes include thrombocytopenia, morulae in neutrophils, anemia, leukopenia, eosinopenia, lymphopenia, and monocytosis.

Diagnosis is by microscopic identification of parasites on blood smears, ELISA, Western blotting[17] or PCR assays.

Treatment involves use of doxycycline (5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours)[18] or imidocarb (single injection at 1.5 mg/kg SC).

Prevention is critical to eradication of tick-borne diseases in endemic regions, and control of tick populations on dogs by preventive topical fipronil, amitraz or other acaricides is important[19].


  1. Auburn University
  2. Smith FD et al (2012) Estimating Lyme disease risk using pet dogs as sentinels. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis 35(2):163-167
  3. Xia Z et al (2012) The occurrence of Dirofilaria immitis, Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia canis and Anaplasma phagocytophium in dogs in China. J Helminthol 86(2):185-189
  4. Bowman D et al (2009) Prevalence and geographic distribution of Dirofilaria immitis, Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia canis, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in dogs in the United States: Results of a national clinic-based serological survey. Vet Parasit 160:138–148
  5. Ogden NH et al (2006) Climate change and the potential range expansion of the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis in Canada. Intl J Parasitol 36:63–70
  6. Fritzen CM et al (2011) Infection prevalences of common tick-borne pathogens in adult lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) and American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) in Kentucky. Am J Trop Med Hyg 85(4):718-723
  7. Woldehiwet Z (2010) The natural history of Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Vet Parasitol 167(2-4):108-122
  8. Barth C et al (2012) Prevalence of antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Anaplasma phagocytophilum and their clinical relevance in dogs in Munich, Germany. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 125(7-8):337-344
  9. Bowman DD (2011) Introduction to the alpha-proteobacteria: Wolbachia and Bartonella, Rickettsia, Brucella, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Top Companion Anim Med 26(4):173-177
  10. Mircean V et al (2012) Seroprevalence and geographic distribution of Dirofilaria immitis and tick-borne infections (Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, and Ehrlichia canis) in dogs from Romania. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 12(7):595-604
  11. Villeneuve A et al (2011) Seroprevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia canis, and Dirofilaria immitis among dogs in Canada. Can Vet J 52(5):527-530
  12. Aslan Başbulut E et al (2012) Seroprevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and tick-borne encephalitis virus in a rural area of Samsun, Turkey. Mikrobiyol Bul 46(2):247-256
  13. Krimer PM et al (2011) Molecular and pathological investigations of the central nervous system in Borrelia burgdorferi-infected dogs. J Vet Diagn Invest 23(4):757-763
  14. Levy SA & Magnarelli LA (1992) Relationship between development of antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi in dogs and the subsequent development of limb/joint borreliosis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 200:344–347
  15. Appel MJ et al (1993) Experimental Lyme disease in dogs produces arthritis and persistent infection. J Infect Dis 167:651– 664
  16. Hutton TA et al (2008) Search for Borrelia burgdorferi in kidneys of dogs with suspected “Lyme nephritis.” J Vet Intern Med 22:860–865
  17. Jacobson RH et al (1996) Lyme disease: laboratory diagnosis of infected and vaccinated symptomatic dogs. Semin Vet Med Surg (Small Anim) 11:172–182
  18. Wormser GP & O'Connell S (2011) Treatment of infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther 9(2):245-260
  19. McCall JW et al(2011) The ability of a topical novel combination of fipronil, amitraz and (S)-methoprene to protect dogs from Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum infections transmitted by Ixodes scapularis. Vet Parasitol 179(4):335-342