According to the CDC, Lyme disease affects 329,000 people in the U.S. each year. Further, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently announced that Lyme disease is a “$50 to $100 billion-dollar problem for the United States…”. Lyme disease can cause severe damage to joints and the neurological system and has been linked to deaths due to Lyme-induced cardiac disease. According to the journal Science, “Lyme disease–carrying ticks are now in half of all U.S. counties.”
How is Lyme Disease Spread?
The only known species that can spread Lyme disease is the black-legged tick (i.e., Ixodes scapularis), also known as the "deer tick". The tick contracts Lyme disease mainly from the white-footed mouse (i.e., Peromyscus leucopus). Ticks are always dangerous and present throughout the year, though they are most active during the summertime.
Vaccinate Mice & Prevent Infection at the Source
Scientists from CT, NY, PA, and TN have developed a new solution: an orally delivered vaccine targeting those mice. Non-infected mice cannot spread the infection to ticks.
The vaccine technology has been tested for over 10 years. According to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (abstract), the authors demonstrated the vaccine pellet technology reduced the number of infected ticks by 76% in field conditions. The study authors state:
“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 mouse and tick-reduction programs, such as those currently employed by pest-management professionals. The program further will be guided by a predictive analytics toolset called ZooHUB, which is currently being developed by US BIOLOGIC and several partners.
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Meirelles Richer L, Aroso M, et al. Reservoir targeted vaccine for Lyme borreliosis induces a yearlong, neutralizing antibody response to OspA in white-footed mice. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2011 Nov;18(11):1809-16. doi: 10.1128/CVI.05226-11.
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