- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Borrelia burgdorferi

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Spirochetes belonging to the genus Borrelia from the mid-guts of Ixodes ticks. It is the aetiological agent of Lyme disease. It was isolated from patients with Lyme arthritis by Burgdorfer and Alan G. Barbour in 1982. Because Willy Burgdorfer first found the organism, it bears his name. Borrelia is for the French bacteriologist Amédée Borrel (1870-1961).

Willy Burgdorfer contracted the disease himself, possibly from the infected urine of lab rabbits. We thank Mirsolav Novak for calling our attention to this eponym.


  • A. C. Steere, S. E. Malawista, D. R. Snydman, et al:
    Lyme arthritis: an epidemic of oligoarticular arthritis in children and adults in three Connecticut communities.
    Arthritis and Rheumatism, New York, 1977, 20: 7-17.
    The authors coined the term Lyme arthritis.
  • A. C. Steere, S. E. Malawista, J. A. Hardin, et al.
    Erythema chronicum migrans and Lyme arthritis: the enlarging clinical spectrum.
    Annals of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia,1977, 86: 685-698.
  • W. Burgdorfer, A. G. Barbour, S. F. Hayes, J. Benach, E. Grunwaldt and J. Davis:
    Lyme disease: a tick-borne spirochetosis?
    Science, Washington, 1982, 216: 1317-1319.
  • A. C. Steere, R. L. Grodzicki, A. N. Kornblatt, et al:
    The spirochetal etiology of Lyme disease.
    New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, 1983, 308: 733-740.
  • A. G. Barbour:
    Isolation and cultivation of Lyme disease spirochetes.
    The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, New Haven, 1984, 57: 521-525.
  • A. G. Barbour and S. F. Hayes:
    Biology of Borrelia species.
    Microbiological Reviews, Washington, 1986, 50: 381-400.
  • W. Burgdorfer:
    Discovery of the Lyme disease spirochete : a historical review.
    Zentralblatt für Bakteriologie, Mikrobiologie und Hygiene. Serie A. 1986, volume 263, no. 1-2.
  • W. Burgdorfer:
    How the discovery of Borrelia burgdorferi came about.
    Clinics in dermatology. July-September 1993, volume 11, no. 3.
  • Alan G. Barbour:
    Lyme Disease: The Cause, the Cure, the Controversy.
    Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

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