Valneva, a pharmaceutical company in France, has been conducting human trials for a vaccine against Lyme disease. The results look promising, but you should continue to rely on repellents and take other preventative measures, for more reasons than one.
The Lyme disease vaccine acts by prompting your body’s immune system to create antibodies to attack the Lyme disease antigen (bacteria in this case) before it can fully infiltrate your bloodstream. Recognizing the enemy is more than half the battle in conquering disease agents. A vaccine would create the equivalent of an immune system “memory” for Lyme bacteria. Clinical trials show the Lyme vaccine is 71.4 to 96.4% effective in test subjects. No side effects have appeared so far.
Previous Vaccine Attempts
In 1998, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of LYMErix™ by U.S. manufacturer SmithKline Beecham. The vaccine reportedly reduced the risks of new Lyme infections in adults by as much as 80%. Three years in, the company withdrew its product from the market. This may have been partially due to a class-action lawsuit brought by people who suffered arthritic symptoms in the wake of being vaccinated.
Why a Vaccine Is Not Enough
Although the possibility of an effective vaccine is exciting news, remember that Lyme disease is only one of many illnesses that can be spread or caused by ticks. Those other medical conditions, such as anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan Disease, can be just as devastating and persistent as Lyme disease. Also consider that your own personal immune system may not respond as favorably to a vaccine as the average person, meaning you may not benefit as much as advertised.
Steps to Protect Against Lyme Disease
There is established scientific proof that products containing 15-30% DEET, such as Ben’s® 30 Tick & Insect Repellent, are your best weapon against ticks and blood-sucking, disease-carrying insects. Apply such products correctly, per instructions, for maximum effectiveness.
Wear Proper Clothing
Wear long pants, tucking the cuffs into your socks, and wear long sleeves. Opt for light-colored clothing so you can easily spot crawling ticks. Clothing treated with Permethrin, a synthetic pesticide, has proven effectiveness in repelling ticks, but only on parts of the body covered by those garments.
Remove Ticks Promptly
The sooner you discover a tick, the better. Your greatly reduce your risk of Lyme disease if you properly remove an attached tick less than 36 hours after it begins to feed. Use tweezers to firmly grasp the entire tick (head included), then pull steadily until it is extracted.