Thursday, July 27, 2017

Who knew there used to be a vaccine for Lyme disease?

Since every summer I worry about contracting tick-borne Lyme disease, I found this article from the New Scientist beyond interesting. Apparently all over the U.S. and much of Central Europe, global warming is leading to bumper crops of fallen acorns that provide food for a bumper crop of mice which in turn lead to an explosion of tick nymphs which then feed on human passersby. Only the humans suffer from infection by the Lyme bacteria. The mice and the ticks are just going about their business.

Once limited in geographical spread, Lyme disease has escaped New England and is becoming endemic in wide areas.

Back in 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a human vaccine to prevent infection by the Lyme bacteria. But that was the era when misplaced fears about the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine fed an unfounded panic. The drug company withdrew the Lyme vaccine rather than fight passionate opponents. Nevertheless,

when the FDA reviewed the vaccine’s adverse event reports in a retrospective study, they found only 905 reports for 1.4 million doses. Still, the damage was done, and the vaccine was benched.

Fear trumped science in this case.

There's another, wider spectrum, vaccine under development now, but it won't complete testing for another six years. So watch out for those ticks, everywhere.

H/t to Kevin Drum for pointing to the New Scientist article.

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