Identification of the tick-borne relapsing fever spirochete Borrelia hermsii by using a species-specific monoclonal antibody.
Borrelia hermsii causes a relapsing fever in humans and is one of several species of tick-borne spirochetes known to occur in the western United States. Spirochetes observed in the peripheral blood of patients acutely ill have been presumptively identified in the past by the geographic location of exposure and the probable species of tick vector. We describe a monoclonal antibody (H9826) that bound to the flagellar protein of B. hermsii but not to those of any of the other species tested, which included B. parkeri, B. turicatae, B. coriaceae, B. anserina, B. burgdorferi, and Leptospira interrogans serovar ballum. This antibody bound efficiently to B. hermsii in an indirect immunofluorescence assay and was used to rapidly detect and identify this spirochete in the peripheral blood of experimentally infected mice and in the central ganglia of Ornithodoros hermsi ticks. H9826 can rapidly confirm the identification of B. hermsii to increase our understanding concerning the geographic distribution, vector specificity, and epidemiological significance of this zoonotic human pathogen.
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