Lyme disease seems to be spreading quite rapidly these days. Countless non-healthcare individuals are giving advice to people through online blogs and health sites to be careful when they walk in grassy areas. People are being advised to carry insect repellents, cover their exposed skin and check the skin thoroughly once they reach home from an outdoor trip to such a surrounding. And if they see a tick, it should be pulled out with tweezers. Also, individuals who develop a bull’s eye skin rash and fever need to visit their doctor immediately.
Is Lyme Disease Really Increasing?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there are about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease each year that are reported by healthcare workers. But experts agree that there are at least ten times more cases that are not reported. So the question is: why is there no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease? Experts at the CDC state that just using repellents and spraying the yard does not work anymore and the risk of acquiring Lyme disease appears to be increasing.
Lyme disease was first recognized in the mid-1970s after some adults and children in Lyme, Connecticut, started to develop flu-like symptoms and arthritis. The disorder is mainly found in NE USA and some parts of Canada, Europe and Northern Asia.
The disorder can usually be treated with a 10-day course of antibiotic but if treatment is delayed the infection can spread to the brain and heart. There are many patients who claim that they suffer from chronic Lyme disease – meaning that they continue to have post-residual symptoms after treatment. However, most health experts do not believe that such a condition exists.
In the late 1990s, there was a vaccine for Lyme disease called LymErix. Three injections of the vaccine were found to be about 76% effective. But the vaccine went off the market because of low sale volume and lawsuits by patients who claimed that it caused severe arthritis and many other symptoms. One expert from the Mayo Clinic believes that it was the anti-vaccine groups and class action lawsuits that resulted in LymErix being taken off the market. Subsequent studies by the CDC revealed that the vaccine was relatively safe but wasn’t needed as the number of Lyme cases was minimal.
Now a European company is in the process of making a vaccine against 6 strains of Lyme which are prevalent in the US. It will be at least 5 more years before the vaccine is available. In the meantime, people should take common-sense precautions when walking in the woods.