You think you have the flu but you’ve had the flu before and it has never been like this. A visit to your physician confirms. You have Lyme disease. Unlike in canines, in humans Lyme is a steamroller coming straight over you. Heavy duty antibiotics work, and the sooner the better to prevent permanent side effects. The course of the disease, even when treated early, can last up to a month. But why do dogs have a preventative vaccine and not people? Why is the rate of Lyme disease in humans rising? (10,000 cases in 1995 to 35,000 in 2010) Why was there an effective vaccine that was pulled from the market in 2002? The story of the vaccine that SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) released in 1998 is a frustrating one.
The vaccine hit the market about the time the fallacious research paper linking autism to vaccines was growing legs. SmithKline didn’t really market the newvaccine, choosing to fight, instead, the boycotts of their entrenched products. As a result sales never took off and they pulled it from production in 2002. Currently researchers at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Labs have developed a new Lyme vaccine for Baxter Pharmaceuticals that has passed initial clinical trials for both safety and efficacy.
Considering that Lyme is the 6th most common infectious disease in this country, the new vaccine is not coming a minute too soon. And considering that 95% of the Lyme cases in the US come from just 6 states (Northeast & Upper Midwest) and New York is one of them, we cannot applaud the release of this vaccine soon enough.
Meanwhile, fellow humans, protect yourselves by
using tick repellant,
wearing long sleeves/long pants/socks,
avoiding high grass, especially in the shade,
checking yourself for ticks regularly if you have been outside or if pup has been outside. Before they attach, ticks are great jumpers and the one pup imports may decide it prefers you.
If you pull a deer tick off your own skin, watch for that tell-tale bull's-eye to form around the spot over the next few days. If it does, contact your physician immediately. And hope that the human Lyme vaccine comes to market soon.