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Keywords:

  • Borrelia burgdorferi;
  • cytology;
  • equine;
  • horse;
  • Lyme disease;
  • uveitis

Abstract

Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease is a tick born spirochetal infection. Clinical signs of Lyme borreliosis are uncommon in horses, but when present they are often vague and nonspecific. In horses, Lyme borreliosis has been implicated in musculoskeletal, neurological, reproductive, and ocular disorders, including uveitis, but definitive diagnosis can be challenging as the causative agent is rarely isolated and serologic tests can be unreliable and do not confirm active disease. Here, we report two cases of equine uveitis associated with B. burgdorferi based on the identification of spirochetes within ocular fluids and confirmed with PCR testing. The two cases illustrate some of the challenges encountered in the recognition and diagnosis of equine Lyme borreliosis. Although only one of many possible causes of equine uveitis, Lyme disease should be considered a differential diagnosis, especially in endemic areas. Given the possibility for false negative results of serum tests during uveitis associated with B. burgdorferi and the failure of such tests to confirm active infection, a combination of cytologic assessment, antibody, and/or PCR testing of ocular fluids may be worthwhile if the clinical suspicion for Lyme uveitis is high.