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J Comp Pathol. 2005 Jul;133(1):1-13.

Histopathological studies of experimental lyme disease in the dog.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.


Experimental borrelia infection was induced in 62 specific--pathogen-free beagle dogs by exposure to Ixodes scapularis ticks harbouring the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi. Clinical signs of Lyme disease occurred in 39/62 dogs, the remaining 23 being subclinically infected. Clinical signs consisted of one to six episodes of transitory lameness with joint swelling and pain, most commonly affecting the elbow or shoulder joints. The polymerase chain reaction and culture demonstrated that the dogs remained infected for up to 581 days. At necropsy, gross findings consisted of lymphadenopathy in the area of tick attachment. Microscopical changes consisted of effusive fibrinosuppurative inflammation or nonsuppurative inflammation, or both, affecting synovial membranes, joint capsules and associated tendon sheaths. Plasma cells dominated areas of chronic inflammation, with CD3(+) T cells being present in lesser numbers. Microscopical signs of arthritis were polyarticular and more widespread than indicated by clinical signs, and most of the subclinically affected animals also had synovitis. In areas of tick attachment to the skin, hyperkeratosis and a mixture of suppurative and nonsuppurative dermatitis were encountered. Lymphadenopathy in superficial lymph nodes resulted from follicular and parafollicular hyperplasia. In 14/62 dogs, lymphoplasmacytic periarteritis and perineuritis were noted, resembling lesions found in human Lyme disease and syphilis, in which an underlying microangiopathy has been proposed.

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