Positive Lyme disease serology in patients with clinical and laboratory evidence of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis

Gary P. Wormser, Harold W. Horowitz, John Nowakowski, Donna McKenna, J. Stephen Dumler, Shobha Varde, Ira Schwartz, Carol Carbonaro, Maria Aguero-Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


In 10 consecutive patients with an acute febrile illness, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis was confirmed with specific polymerase chain reaction studies, serologic conversion, or both. Although no patients had the clinical features most suggestive of early Lyme disease (eg, erythema migrans or cranial nerve palsy), tests for antibody to Borrelia burgdorferi produced a reaction in most patients. In 6 of 7 patients (86%) with evaluable results, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay yielded positive or equivocal findings, and an immunoblot technique yielded positive findings in 60% to 90% of patients, depending on the criteria used for interpretation. Inasmuch as approximately 25% of nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks in Westchester County, New York, are infected with B burgdorferi, the probability that at least 9 of these patients were coinfected with B burgdorferi and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis by the same tick bite is estimated to be .00003. These observations suggest that serodiagnosis is insufficient to establish the presence of coinfection with B burgdorferi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-147
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis
  • Lyme disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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