Antibody Testing and Lyme Disease Risk

Elizabeth G. Stone; Eleanor H. Lacombe; Peter W. Rand


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2005;11(5):722-724. 

In This Article

The Study

One hundred sixty-four Maine clinics were contacted in February 2003 and invited to join the study; 69 of these agreed to participate. Clinics were instructed to record results of all IDEXX 3Dx Lyme disease tests that were conducted as part of a routine health screen, to record town of residence, and to record if a Lyme disease vaccine had ever been administered. Lyme disease vaccines can be highly effective;[2] however, since vaccination rates are unevenly distributed, inclusion of vaccinated dogs would bias estimates of disease risk. This protocol was approved by the Maine Bureau of Health Institutional Review Board.

Canine seroprevalence rates were calculated for minor civil divisions, including towns and unorganized townships. Rates were calculated only for divisions that had results of 10 or more tests. The relationships between the canine prevalence rates and human Lyme disease reports to the Bureau of Health (217 division-matched reports) and tick submissions to the Vector-borne Disease Laboratory (12,482 division-matched submissions) for the 2 years before this study, 2001–2002, were tested with Spearman rank correlation. Canine C6 antibodies persisted in experimentally infected, untreated dogs for ≥ 65 weeks, with no endpoint described;[9] exposure status of the dogs in the present study could not be determined. Using data from 2 years allowed us to include sufficient numbers of human reports for meaningful statistic testing without sacrificing the ability to look at a "snapshot in time" of the Lyme disease spread.

Two maps were created. The first map (Figure 1) showed prevalence rates of minor civil divisions with ≥ 10 tests. The second map (Figure 2) showed pooled data from all divisions, including those with small sample sizes. For this map, an overlay of the state with 15-minute quadrangles was used. Each division from which data were collected was assigned to the quadrangle that contained the largest portion of its area. Seroprevalence rates for quadrangles were calculated by combining test results from all divisions within a quadrangle to find the average rate. Divisions were then assigned the average seroprevalence rate of their quadrangle for mapping. Quadrangles having a pooled total of < 10 tests were not included in this map.

Figure 1.

Canine Lyme disease seroprevalence rates based on the IDEXX 3Dx test for minor civil divisions with ≥ 10 tests, Maine, 2003.

Figure 2.

Regional canine Lyme disease seroprevalence rates calculated from minor civil division pools created within 15-minute quadrangles, Maine, 2003.

Test results from 9,511 dogs that had not been vaccinated for Lyme disease were submitted from 343 minor civil divisions. Tests were performed from March to July 2003. The overall seroprevalence rate was 8%. One hundred and eighty-three divisions met the criterion of a minimum sample size of 10 for calculating prevalence rates. At the division level, seroprevalence rates significantly correlated with the number of ticks submitted to the Maine Medical Center Research Institute's Vector-borne Disease Laboratory from 2001 to 2002 (r = 0.41, p < 0.001), and human Lyme disease reports to the Bureau of Health (r = 0.15, p < 0.05) from 2001 to 2002.

Regional seroprevalence rates were calculated for 65 quadrangles representing 297 minor civil divisions. Seroprevalence rates ranged from 0% to 47%. Rates were highest along southern coastal Maine (≤ 47%), with regional rates of 11% as far east as Columbia and along the mid-New Hampshire border as far north as Upton. Forty-four divisions with ≥ 10 tests had prevalence rates of 0%; 12 of these had ≥ 30 tests and 3 had ≥ 60.


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