Assessing Borrelia infection in dogs to determine the risk of Lyme disease in New Brunswick

To assess people’s risk of contracting Lyme disease in New Brunswick we will test 700 dogs for antibodies to the bacterium that causes the disease. Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, generally transmitted through a tick bite. Lyme disease is a debilitating disease and the risk of contracting it is increasing in in New Brunswick as well as through the rest of Canada. Because diagnosis of Lyme disease is difficult in humans, we are using dogs as a sentinel species. Dogs mount a robust immune response to infection, and as they live with humans, determining the number of dogs with Lyme disease can help assess the risk of Lyme disease for people living in the same households and communities. Our study will consist of testing dogs with a commercial test kit in both the winter and summer, to determine the peak time for infection, as well as comparative tests of the human and canine Lyme disease test procedures.

Natalie Bjurman & Kami Harris
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Vett Lloyd
New Brunswick