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Infect Immun. 1997 Oct;65(10):4043-7.

Duration of immunity to reinfection with tick-transmitted Borrelia burgdorferi in naturally infected mice.

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  • 1Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado 80522, USA.


The ability of naturally infected and cured mice to resist reinfection with tick-transmitted Borrelia burgdorferi was tested over a 1-year period. All of the mice were resistant to reinfection when they were challenged at 1.5 months after cure. The majority of animals were resistant to reinfection for up to 10.5 months after cure, but this resistance was lost at 1 year after cure. Both protected and unprotected animals showed a diverse array of antibodies on Western immunoblots. Protection was not associated with the killing of spirochetes in ticks, and naturally infected mice produced no antibodies to outer surface protein A (OSP A). The titers to whole Borrelia sonicate and OSP C, however, remained high throughout the 1-year study period. The levels of borreliacidal antibodies were highest in the 1.5 month-after-cure group. Natural immunity to reinfection with B. burgdorferi is limited in time, is complex, and may involve both humoral and cellular components.

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