Borrelia species - Overview

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Phylum Spirochaetes
Class Spirochaetes
Order Spirochaetales
Family Spirochaetaceae
Genus Borrelia

The Borrelia species are longer, wider, helical spirochaetes with a linear chromosome and linear and circular plasmids. They are obligate parasites transmitted by arthropod vectors. They cause systemic infections in many animals and humans. Borrelia undergo slow growth in specialised culture media.

The Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex is the cause of Lyme Disease. The complex comprises three major species:

  • Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, the most common cause of canine Lyme disease in the USA.
  • Borrelia garinii which, with B. afzelii, is the most common cause of Lyme disease in Europe.

The Borreliae bacteria multiply in the blood stream of susceptible hosts and disseminate throughout the body. They can localise in joints, brain, nerves, eyes and heart.

See here for a list of Borrelia species

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