In vitro susceptibility of Borrelia burgdorferi isolates to three antibiotics commonly used for treating equine Lyme disease
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Background Lyme disease in humans is predominantly treated with tetracycline, macrolides or beta lactam antibiotics that have low minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) against Borrelia burgdorferi. Horses with Lyme disease may require long-term treatment making frequent intravenous or intramuscular treatment difficult and when administered orally those drugs may have either a high incidence of side effects or have poor bioavailability. The aim of the present study was to determine the in vitro susceptibility of three B. burgdorferi isolates to three antibiotics of different classes that are commonly used in practice for treating Borrelia infections in horses. Results Broth microdilution assays were used to determine minimum inhibitory concentration of three antibiotics (ceftiofur sodium, minocycline and metronidazole), for three Borrelia burgdorferi isolates. Barbour-Stoner-Kelly (BSK K + R) medium with a final inoculum of 106 Borrelia cells/mL and incubation periods of 72 h were used in the determination of MICs. Observed MICs indicated that all isolates had similar susceptibility to each drug but susceptibility to the tested antimicrobial agents varied; ceftiofur sodium (MIC = 0.08 μg/ml), minocycline hydrochloride (MIC = 0.8 μg/ml) and metronidazole (MIC = 50 μg/ml). Conclusions The MIC against B. burgorferi varied among the three antibiotics with ceftiofur having the lowest MIC and metronidazole the highest MIC. The MIC values observed for ceftiofur in the study fall within the range of reported serum and tissue concentrations for the drug metabolite following ceftiofur sodium administration as crystalline-free acid. Minocycline and metronidazole treatments, as currently used in equine practice, could fall short of attaining MIC concentrations for B. burgdorferi.