New technology may prevent Lyme disease transmission

Researchers developed a new technology that may reduce the level of tick infection of Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored a five-year field trial in test and control fields in New York using an oral bait vaccine. The researchers distributed the vaccine to white-footed mice, which elicited antibodies that killed the Borrelia and prevented the transmission of Lyme disease.

The tests showed a 23 percent reduction in tick infection rate after the first year of treatment. By the fifth year of treatment, there was a 76 percent reduction in tick infection rate.

US BIOLOGIC, a company that commercializes solutions to disrupt the transmission of zoonotic diseases, is commercializing the oral bait vaccine.

"The CDC has long-acknowledged a 'one health' approach to preventing infectious diseases by linking animal and human treatments," Tom Monath, the board director for US BIOLOGIC, said. "US BIOLOGIC's oral bait vaccine is an important example of how a vaccine for animals, in this case the white-footed mouse reservoir of Lyme disease, can break the Lyme disease transmission cycle."

US BIOLOGIC has applied for licensure of the oral bait vaccine with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to the CDC, Lyme disease affects more than 300,000 people in the U.S. annually and can cause severe damage to the neurologic system and the joints. The CDC also recently determined Lyme disease was responsible for several deaths due to cardiac arrest.