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Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia miyamotoi seroprevalence in California blood donors.


The western blacklegged tick, Ixodes pacificus, an important vector in the western United States of two zoonotic spirochetes: Borrelia burgdorferi (also called Borreliella burgdorferi), causing Lyme disease, and Borrelia miyamotoi, causing a relapsing fever-type illness. Human cases of Lyme disease are well-documented in California, with increased risk in the north coastal areas and western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range. Despite the established presence of B. miyamotoi in the human-biting I. pacificus tick in California, clinical cases with this spirochete have not been well studied. To assess exposure to B. burgdorferi and B. miyamotoi in California, and to address the hypothesis that B. miyamotoi exposure in humans is similar in geographic range to B. burgdorferi, 1,700 blood donor sera from California were tested for antibodies to both pathogens. Sampling was from high endemic and low endemic counties for Lyme disease in California. All sera were screened using the C6 ELISA. All C6 positive and equivocal samples and nine randomly chosen C6 negative samples were further analyzed for B. burgdorferi antibody using IgG western blot and a modified two ELISA test system and for B. miyamotoi antibody using the GlpQ ELISA and B. miyamotoi whole cell sonicate western blot. Of the 1,700 samples tested in series, eight tested positive for antibodies to B. burgdorferi (0.47%, Exact 95% CI: 0.20, 0.93) and two tested positive for antibodies to B. miyamotoi (0.12%, Exact 95% CI: 0.01, 0.42). There was no statistically significant difference in seroprevalence for either pathogen between high and low Lyme disease endemic counties. Our results confirm a low frequency of Lyme disease and an even lower frequency of B. miyamotoi exposure among adult blood donors in California; however, our findings reinforce public health messaging that there is risk of infection by these emerging diseases in the state.

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