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Int Med Case Rep J. 2016 Apr 21;9:101-6. doi: 10.2147/IMCRJ.S99936. eCollection 2016.

Lyme disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi with two homeologous 16S rRNA genes: a case report.

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Pathology Department, Milford Hospital, Milford, CT, USA; Milford Molecular Diagnostics, Milford, CT, USA.


Lyme disease (LD), the most common tick-borne disease in North America, is believed to be caused exclusively by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and is usually diagnosed by clinical evaluation and serologic assays. As reported previously in a peer-reviewed article, a 13-year-old boy living in the Northeast of the USA was initially diagnosed with LD based on evaluation of his clinical presentations and on serologic test results. The patient was treated with a course of oral doxycycline for 28 days, and the symptoms resolved. A year later, the boy developed a series of unusual symptoms and did not attend school for 1 year. A LD specialist reviewed the case and found the serologic test band patterns nondiagnostic of LD. The boy was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After discharge from the psychiatric hospital, a polymerase chain reaction test performed in a winter month when the boy was 16 years old showed a low density of B. burgdorferi sensu lato in the blood of the patient, confirmed by partial 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) gene sequencing. Subsequent DNA sequencing analysis presented in this report demonstrated that the spirochete isolate was a novel strain of B. burgdorferi with two homeologous 16S rRNA genes, which has never been reported in the world literature. This case report shows that direct DNA sequencing is a valuable tool for reliable molecular diagnosis of Lyme and related borrelioses, as well as for studies of the diversity of the causative agents of LD because LD patients infected by a rare or novel borrelial variant may produce an antibody pattern that can be different from the pattern characteristic of an infection caused by a typical B. burgdorferi sensu stricto strain.


Borrelia burgdorferi; DNA sequencing; Lyme disease; homeologous 16S rRNA genes

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