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A Vaccine For Lyme Disease?

Annie Hauser Published: May 14, 2013, 3:32 PM EDT

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A vaccine for Lyme disease could be on the way, following a successful phase 1/2 clinical trial, researchers from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Brookhaven National Laboratory reported in the online journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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In the trial, the vaccine was well tolerated by 300 people, who received three primary immunizations and one booster shot. Participants demonstrated only mild adverse reactions to the vaccine. No vaccine-related serious health events occurred.

The main challenge to a successful Lyme disease vaccine, researchers said, is developing one that can defend against all targeted species of Borrelia, the group of bacteria that causes the infection. The vaccine in development has so far shown the ability to provide broad-based protection against multiple species of Borrelia.

Lyme disease sickened more than 33,000 Americans in 2011 alone, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it the sixth-most common infection in the country, and the third-most common infection in the eastern U.S., behind only chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Besides Lyme disease, there are more than 60 other types of tick-borne infections known in the United States. Nationally, rates of all tick-borne infections are on the rise, according to CDC data.

To protect against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections, Ben Beard, PhD, chief of the bacterial diseases branch at the CDC, said that individuals should wear insect repellent any time they’re outside, particularly in wooded or grassy areas, and carefully check for ticks after any outdoor activity. If you experience a fever or rash after an outdoor experience, call a doctor immediately, Beard said.

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