Positive Lyme disease serology in patients with clinical and laboratory evidence of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis

Am J Clin Pathol. 1997 Feb;107(2):142-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/107.2.142.


In 10 consecutive patients with an acute febrile illness, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis was confirmed with specific polymerase chain reaction studies, serologic conversion, or both. Although no patients had the clinical features most suggestive of early Lyme disease (eg, erythema migrans or cranial nerve palsy), tests for antibody to Borrelia burgdorferi produced a reaction in most patients. In 6 of 7 patients (86%) with evaluable results, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay yielded positive or equivocal findings, and an immunoblot technique yielded positive findings in 60% to 90% of patients, depending on the criteria used for interpretation. Inasmuch as approximately 25% of nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks in Westchester County, New York, are infected with B burgdorferi, the probability that at least 9 of these patients were coinfected with B burgdorferi and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis by the same tick bite is estimated to be .00003. These observations suggest that serodiagnosis is insufficient to establish the presence of coinfection with B burgdorferi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / isolation & purification*
  • Ehrlichia chaffeensis / isolation & purification*
  • Ehrlichiosis / complications
  • Ehrlichiosis / diagnosis*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fever / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Tick-Borne Diseases