Cultivation of Borrelia burgdorferi from human tick bite sites: a guide to the risk of infection

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 Feb;32(2 Pt 1):184-7. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(95)90123-x.


Background: The risk of acquiring Lyme disease has been evaluated by xenodiagnostic procedures with laboratory strains of Borrelia burgdorferi and laboratory-reared Ixodes ticks, or by clinical trials in which diagnosis was based on clinical findings, culture, or serologic tests.

Objective: Our purpose was to determine the risk of infection from tick bites in a natural setting in which wild strains of B. burgdorferi were involved, by a biopsy culture technique.

Methods: Skin biopsy specimens were obtained from Ixodes scapularis tick bite sites, processed, and examined for the presence of B. burgdorferi.

Results: B. burgdorferi was cultivated from only 2 of 48 skin biopsy specimens. In both instances duration of tick attachment was approximately 24 hours.

Conclusion: In a hyperendemic region for Lyme disease the risk of infection after a deer tick bite appears to be low, particularly if the tick has been attached for less than 24 hours.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amoxicillin / administration & dosage
  • Amoxicillin / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Bites and Stings / microbiology*
  • Bites and Stings / pathology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / growth & development
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / isolation & purification*
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Erythema Chronicum Migrans / drug therapy
  • Erythema Chronicum Migrans / microbiology
  • Erythema Chronicum Migrans / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • Lyme Disease / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Ticks*
  • Time Factors


  • Amoxicillin
  • Doxycycline