A serologic survey for antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi utilizing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was conducted on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) serum samples collected in Georgia (USA) from 1979 to 1990. Serologic results from four regions (Barrier Islands, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Mountain) and three age classes (0.5, 1.5, and ≥2.5 yr) were compared. Antibody prevalence, as determined by positive results at a 1:64 dilution or higher, was 36% in the Barrier Islands, 14% in the Coastal Plain, 8% in the Piedmont, and 4% in the Mountain regions. Statewide antibody prevalence was 19%. Antibody titers generally were low, and if a more conservative cutoff titer of 1:128 were used, the statewide prevalence estimate would have been reduced to 5%. Antibody prevalence as determined at this higher cutoff value, however, still remained highest in the Barrier Islands and lowest in the Mountains. Prevalence estimates were lower in the 0.5-yr age class than in the 1.5-yr or ≥2.5-yr age class (P < 0.05). A more in-depth retrospective study of the Barrier Islands region from 1971 to 1985 revealed a 50% overall antibody prevalence; positive results were found in every year represented except 1990. Based on these results, we propose that B. burgdorferi has been present in Georgia since at least 1971.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2