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Cornell Vet. 1992 Jul;82(3):253-74.

Lyme borreliosis in cattle and horses: a review of the literature.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6610.


A complete search of the literature concerning Lyme borreliosis as it relates to horses and cattle was done. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, immunological response to the disease, diagnosis and treatment are discussed. A review of clinical cases in horses and cattle is presented. Clinical signs of Lyme borreliosis in horses include: chronic weight loss, sporadic lameness, laminitis, low grade fever, swollen joints, muscle tenderness, and anterior uveitis. In addition to those clinical signs, neurological signs such as depression, behavioral changes, dysphagia, head tilt and encephalitis can be seen in chronic cases. Borreliosis occurs in cattle, usually as a herd problem. In acute Lyme borreliosis, cattle often will show a fever, stiffness, swollen joints, and decreased milk production. Chronic weight loss, laminitis and abortion are also possible outcomes of borreliosis in cattle. Diagnosis of clinical Lyme borreliosis is difficult and depends upon recognition of clinical signs, a history of possible exposure, and identification of the spirochete in the affected animal. Since the spirochete is very difficult to culture, confirmation of B. burgdorferi infection often relies on serologic testing. Subclinical seropositive animals do occur, thus confusing the diagnosis. An approach to treatment of cattle and horses with Lyme borreliosis is outlined.

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