Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 1999
The prevalence of antibodies against Lyme disease spirochaetes in serum samples from 80 forestry workers at high occupational risk of Lyme disease was surveyed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with the OspC-I synthetic peptide. The peptide is part of the outer surface protein C (OspC) amino acid sequence located in the region conserved among Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto or sensu lato. Positivity for antibodies against OspC-I was observed in 25 (31·3%) of the forestry workers. Of these positive cases, 12 (15·0%) and 19 (23·8%) were positive for immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibody, respectively. Among 62 workers who were negative for IgG antibody against B. garinii or B. japonica in our previous study, 9 (14·5%) and 4 (6·5%) were positive for IgM and IgG antibody, respectively, in OspC-I ELISA. These results demonstrate for the first time that Lyme disease in forestry workers can be revealed using OspC-I ELISA. We conclude that forestry workers who show positive results for antibodies against OspC-I have very likely been exposed to Lyme disease spirochaetes, and that those who show positivity for IgM antibody against OspC-I may be in the early stage of Lyme disease.