European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 117-123

First online:

Longterm survey (7 years) in a population at risk for Lyme borreliosis: What happens to the seropositive individuals?

  • H. FahrerAffiliated withLindenhofspital
  • , M.J. SauvainAffiliated withDepartment of Rheumatology, University of Bern
  • , E. ZhiouaAffiliated withCenter for Vector Borne Diseases Research, University of Rhode Island
  • , C. Van HoeckeAffiliated withSmithKline Beech am Biologicals
  • , L.E. GernAffiliated withDepartment of Parasitology, Institute of Zoology, University of Neuchâtel

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In 1986, a 26% seroprevalence of IgG- anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies was observed among 950 orienteers and the incidence of new clinical infections was 0.8%. In 1993, a total of 305 seropositive orienteers were reexamined. During that time, 15 cases (4.9%) of definite/probable Lyme disease occurred in this seropositive group (12 skin manifestations and 3 monoarticular joint manifestations). Among the 12 definite cases, 9 showed new clinical infections (7 EM, 1 acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, 1 arthritis), and 3 were recurrent (2 EM, 1 arthritis). The annual incidence (0.8%) in this seropositive group was identical to the incidence observed among the whole population in 1986. The individual antibody titer decreased slightly but the seroreversion rate was low (7%). Serology was not very helpful in identifying clinical cases and evolutions, and it can be stated, that a positive serology is much more frequent in this risk group than clinical disease.

Longterm survey Lyme borreliosis Orienteers Population at risk