Status of Borrelia Burgdorferi Infection After Antibiotic Treatment and the Effects of Corticosteroids: An Experimental Study

J Infect Dis. 2000 Mar;181(3):1069-81. doi: 10.1086/315340.


Sixteen specific-pathogen-free beagles were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. Three groups of 4 dogs were treated with antibiotics for 30 consecutive days starting 120 days after tick exposure; 4 dogs were untreated controls. At day 420 after tick exposure and again before euthanasia, 2 dogs of each group were treated with prednisone for 14 days. All dogs contracted infection and 11 developed acute arthritis 50-120 days after exposure. After day 120, one of 12 antibiotic-treated dogs and 2 of 4 untreated dogs became lame. Antibiotic therapy reduced the frequency of Borrelia-positivity in subsequent skin biopsy samples. After prednisone treatment, both control dogs developed severe polyarthritis. At euthanasia, single tissues of the antibiotic-treated dogs and multiple tissues of all control dogs were Borrelia-positive by polymerase chain reaction. Viable spirochetes were not recovered from antibiotic-treated dogs. Two antibiotic-treated dogs showed histologic evidence of minimal lesions, whereas all control dogs had mild polyarthritis with periarteritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / blood
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy*
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / pathology
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prednisone / pharmacology*
  • Ticks / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Prednisone