In the last fifteen years, concern over tick-borne diseases has begun to over shadow the enjoyment of recreational summer activities. The ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found in grassy areas like lawns, shrubs and woodlands.
Lyme disease in particular has become so wide spread in the United States that it is the number one vector borne illness. Public health experts are most concerned about children and adults who work or spend a lot of time outside and are urging the development of a Lyme vaccine.
“The fact that there is no vaccine for an infection causing some 20,000 annual cases of Lyme is an egregious failure of public health,” states emeritus professor of medicine Stanley A. Plotkin of the University of Pennsylvania.
Baxter International is currently developing a Lyme vaccine, but is moving slowly because of backlash earlier Lyme vaccines had from anti-vaccine groups. The Food and Drug Administration approved two Lyme vaccines in the 1990s, although only one of them made it to the market.
Lymerix was put on the market in 1998, but false claims were made that Lymerix caused arthritis. Anti-vaccine groups went so far as to claim that Lymerix caused Lyme disease. Although the claim was later proved wrong, the vaccine was pulled from the market in 2002 because of a class action lawsuit based on the false claims and declining sales.
Lorraine Johnson is the chief executive of LymeDisease.org, an advocacy group and states: “I’m cautious about vaccines. Everyone wants a good vaccine, but no one wants a vaccine that enriches researchers and harms patients like the last one.”
Meanwhile, a group at the University of Rhode Island (URI) is working to develop another vaccine. The group is using the protein from deer tick saliva to create the vaccine. After being vaccinated, anyone who is bit by a tick will have an itching sensation and their body’s immune system will be triggered to attack any pathogens the tick delivers.
With this previous history in mind, Baxter International and the group at URI continue to develop vaccines to combat this terrible disease. Their goal is to explain that the vaccine is safe and effective and will not cause Lyme disease, while helping thousands of people avoid this debilitating disease. Vaccine Watch encourages people to learn more about vaccines and speak with their doctors – especially if a vaccine has the potential to combat a terrible disease.