Ticks and Lyme disease are not breaking news in Massachusetts, we know all too well that it’s basically an epidemic. The CDC reports that in the last 4 years the number of cases per year has climbed to 3,800. What we need is a vaccine. Scientists make breakthroughs every day, why haven’t they found a Lyme vaccine yet? Well actually they have, but apparently, it’s complicated.
WHAT WAS THE LYME VACCINE AND WHAT HAPPENED TO IT?
Miles O’Brien of PBS Newshour did a little investigating. Dr. Allen Steere, a rheumatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, actually discovered Lyme disease in 1975 by studying a group of children that all seemed to have arthritis symptoms. Later he helped in the development of a vaccine called LYMErix that was prescribed for the first time in 1998. But where is it now? The Lyme vaccine fell victim to the anti-vaccine movement. It sold well at first, but then people began to claim, without clinical backup, that the vaccine was giving them arthritis. The news spread and the sales crashed. Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at the Mayo Clinic, says that after the theories hit the internet, class actions suits were formed. The anti-Lyme-vaccine groups became so aggressive that Poland and Steere actually had to take security measures. So four years after the Lyme vaccine (that showed an 80% effectiveness rate) was created, the pharmaceutical company that produced it caved to the pressure and lack of sales and stopped production.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
Lyme is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States and the desire for a vaccine is strong. Poland states that some people are so desperate that they have even gone to veterinarians to try to convince them to give them the canine vaccine that does exist. So it seems that our dogs actually have several options for vaccination when we have none. People are asking for the state government to get involved. The Massachusetts Lyme Disease Commission recently held a hearing in which it was suggested the Lyme vaccine become relicensed. It IS already FDA approved.
Unfortunately, this option does not seem likely. However, the French firm Valneva is testing a new vaccine with the FDA. Dr. Steele is still working on the issue. Other doctors, like Dr. Linden Hu, are testing with ticks bred in sterile conditions and humans with Lyme to find ways to recognize the bacteria that causes Lyme and find how it hides in the body. The work is never ending and the goal is to eradicate the disease. Yet until then, we have to do what we can on the homefront.
- Thorough tick checks after being outdoors
- Long sleeves and pants
- Light colored clothing
- Insect repellent
- Tick control service by Mosquito Squad for your property
At Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham, we are hopeful the continuing research will find a vaccine or a cure. However, we too will continue to do what we do best and that provides our clients with the best products on the market to keep ticks out of their living spaces. Our barrier treatment and tick tube systems eliminate 85-90% of ticks in your yard today and for seasons to come. Please call us and let us plan the service that suits you best.