Molecular Detection by PCR and Sequencing

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Reference Details


Molecular detection of Borrelia species including, but not limited to; B. burgdorferi sensustricto, B. afzelii, B. garinii, B. mayonii and B. spielmanii. in clinical specimens.

Test Category:
Molecular Detection and Genotyping
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato
Illnesses and Diseases:
  • Lyme Disease

Synovial fluid or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) - minimum volume required is 0.5 mL.  

Fresh tissue (skin biopsy) – 1 to 5 mg

Serum is a low-yield specimen type for the detection of these organisms and will be rejected.

Collection Method:

CSF and synovial fluid: Collect into sterile container without additives.

Fresh or paraffin-embedded tissue: a) Wash biopsy site with an antiseptic soap. Thoroughly rinse area with sterile water. Do not use alcohol or iodine preparations. A local anesthetic may be used.  b) Collect punch biopsy to include full thickness of dermis. Place tissue in a saline-moistened gauze and transfer  into a sterile container containing 2 mL saline.   

Specimen Processing, Storage and Shipping:

Store synovial fluid or CSF specimens frozen until shipped for testing.  Ship synovial fluid and CSF frozen on dry ice.  Store tissues refrigerated up to 5 days. Ship with freezer packs.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods:

Shipping of specimens shall be done by a TDG certified individual in accordance with TDG regulations. For additional information regarding classification of specimens for the purposes of shipping, consult either Part 2 Appendix 3 of the TDG Regulations or section 3.6.2 of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations as applicable.

For additional guidance on the transport of infectious substances in other languages, please click on the link below.


Patient Criteria:

Appropriate clinical symptoms with potential exposure to blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic rash may be present. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Accompanying Documentation:

Completed Requisition for Molecular Testing for Selected Zoonotic.  If possible, include the clinical history and lab results performed at local or provincial laboratories.


Specimens may be subject to rejection if they are not the appropriate sample type, have insufficient volume, or are not accompanied by relevant patient information.


Methods and Interpretation of Results:

Extracted DNA is screened by a real-time PCR assay specific for Borrelia species. If positive by real-time PCR, samples are tested by melt-curve analysis, conventional PCR and sequencing for confirmation and species determination.

Initiation of antibiotic treatment prior to testing may result in decreased bacterial genome which will affect the outcome of PCR testing.

Turnaround Time:

21 calendar days.

Phone: (204) 789-7434 or (204) 789-7662
Fax: (204) 789-2082
  1. Courtney, J.W., Kostelnik, L.M., Zeidner, N.S., Massung, R.F. 2004.  Multiplex real-time PCR for detection of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi.  J. Clin. Micro. 42(7):3164-3168.
  2. Johnson, B.J.B., Happ, C.M., Mayer, L.W., Piesman, J.    1992.  Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi in ticks by species-specific amplification of the flagellin gene. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 47(6):730-741.
  3. Scott, J.C., Wright, D.J. M., and Cutler, S.J. 2005. Typing African Relapsing Fever Spirochetes. Emerg. Inf. Dis. 11(11):1722-1729.
  4. Pritt, B. S., Mead, P. S., Hoang Johnson, D. K., Neitzel, et. al. 2016. Identification of a novel pathogenic Borrelia species causing Lyme borreliosis with unusually high spirochaetaemia: a descriptive study. The Lancet. Infectious Diseases16(5), 556–564.
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