Washington: A new study highlights the urgent need to develop an effective vaccine to prevent Lyme disease in humans. The study was published in the journal ‘Clinical Infectious Diseases’. Several experts from the government and industry assembled at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center to discuss various strategies and methods to tackle this public health challenge.
Dr Steven Schutzer, senior author of the research at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School said, “Countermeasures such as vaccines are needed to stem the growing number of cases per year. This is extremely important because you can get Lyme disease more than once.” The disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. The only preventative measure currently available to humans is “guidance” for avoiding tick bites. The ineffectiveness of this strategy is suggested by the estimated 300,000 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease that occur annually in the United States, along with more than 100,000 in Europe.
Early diagnosis and treatment can combat the infection, however, if left untreated, the risk increases that the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. Even those who have been successfully diagnosed and treated can be re-infected if bitten again.