A divergent spirochete strain isolated from a resident of the southeastern United States was identified by multilocus sequence typing as Borrelia bissettii.

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Background: Out of 20 spirochete species from Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) complex recognized to date some are considered to have a limited distribution, while others are worldwide dispersed. Among those are Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.) and Borrelia bissettii which are distributed both in North America and in Europe. While B. burgdorferi s.s. is recognized as a cause of Lyme borreliosis worldwide, involvement of B. bissettii in human Lyme disease was not so definite yet. Findings: Multilocus sequence typing of spirochete isolates originating from residents of Georgia and Florida, USA, revealed the presence of two Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto strains highly similar to those from endemic Lyme borreliosis regions of the northeastern United States, and an unusual strain that differed from any previously described in Europe or North America. Based on phylogenetic analysis of eight chromosomally located housekeeping genes divergent strain clustered between Borrelia bissettii and Borrelia carolinensis, two species from the B.burgdorferi s.l. complex, widely distributed among the multiple hosts and vector ticks in the southeastern United States. The genetic distance analysis showed a close relationship of the diverged strain to B. bissettii. Conclusions: Here, we present the analysis of the first North American human originated live spirochete strain that revealed close relatedness to B. bissettii. The potential of B. bissettii to cause human disease, even if it is infrequent, is of importance for clinicians due to the extensive range of its geographic distribution.

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Parasites and Vectors





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