Zonootic diseases threaten our world. Among the worst is Lyme disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States and is spread primarily by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).
Also according to the CDC, Lyme disease affects 329,000 people in the U.S. each year and can cause severe damage to joints and the neurologic system. The CDC recently linked Lyme disease with several deaths due to cardiac disease caused by Borrelia. The problem is spreading, and “Lyme disease–carrying ticks are now in half of all U.S. counties” (Science, 2016).
Based on information published by the CDC and US Bureau of Labor Statistics the economic impact of Lyme disease due to direct medical costs, indirect medical costs, lost income, lost taxes, and related disease costs is calculated to exceed $3.5 billion annually.
To do so, we implement programs to apply a safe Lyme vaccine pellet eaten by a mouse. In response to the vaccine, the mouse’s body creates antibodies, which in turn are passed to feeding ticks, breaking the transmission of Lyme disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (Abstract link here), the authors demonstrated that the vaccine pellet technology reduced the prevalence of infected ticks by 76% in field conditions (See summary graph below).
The authors note: “Implementation of such a long-term public health measure could substantially reduce the risk of human exposure to Lyme disease.”
This vaccine pellet approach could be complemented by an integrated tick management program that includes targeted vector-reduction techniques, such as those employed by pest-management professionals to both reduce the ticks that cause disease and the level of harmful bacteria in the environment.
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