Survival of Borrelia burgdorferi in blood products

Transfusion. 1989 Sep;29(7):581-3. doi: 10.1046/j.1537-2995.1989.29789369673.x.


The incidence of Lyme disease is rapidly increasing in the United States. To assess the potential of transmission of the disease through blood transfusion, we studied the survival of Borrelia burgdorferi in blood products under blood bank storage conditions. Two units of whole blood, separated into red cells (RBCs), fresh-frozen plasma (FFP), and platelet concentrates (PCs), were inoculated with B. burgdorferi (strain B31) in concentrations of approximately 3000 organisms per mL of RBCs and FFP and 200 organisms per mL of PCs. Products were then stored under blood banking conditions and sampled at several storage times. The viability of the spirochete in blood components was determined by darkfield microscopic examination of cultures in modified Kelly's medium. The organism was shown to survive in RBCs (4 degrees C) and FFP (below -18 degrees C) for 45 days and in PCs (20-24 degrees C) for 6 days. The results of this study do not exclude the possibility of transmission of Lyme disease through blood transfusion.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Blood Donors
  • Blood Platelets / microbiology*
  • Borrelia / growth & development*
  • Borrelia / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Erythrocytes / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / blood
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / transmission
  • Plasma / microbiology*
  • Transfusion Reaction


  • Antibodies, Bacterial