Lyme disease, an infection spread through ticks, currently it is the most common disease in the Northern Hemisphere. The history of the disease is relatively young, having been diagnosed as a separate condition in 1975, and its bacterium was first identified in 1981. Its biggest threat? It has no vaccine, and many specialists have tipped 2018 to be the year in which the number of people affected will peak. Lyme disease is difficult to be detected, and it science has shown that if Lyme disease is left untreated, it can lead to chronic complications such as memory problems, and arthritis. Due to the increasing issues created by climate change, higher temperatures are leading to a higher number of mice reproducing. Mice are the source for the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, and the carriers of tick.
2016 was a year in which the mouse population increased, dubbed the “mouse plague” and the number of mice increase the rate of Lyme disease spreading. The ticks grasp onto the mice, and the when they feed on the blood of the mice, which contains the bacteria aforementioned, the bacteria move into the tick’s gut. The tick then attaches onto a human and the bacteria passes into the human’s blood.
Rick Ostfeld, was able to predict the possible outbreak of Lyme disease, by identifying the acorns littered in a forest in New York. The acorns, indicate the population of mice, and the population of infected ticks are predicted with the number of mice. Another threat of Lyme disease, is that in areas where the disease is scarce – outside the Lyme zones, the public is generally unaware of the precautions you need to take in order to avoid contracting Lyme disease.
The vaccine, Lymerix, developed by GSK, was withdrawn after 4 years, due to the link between Lymerix and chronic arthritis. Many anti-vaccination groups and the media, caused public support for the vaccine to decline. The vaccine for animal’s works to neutralise the B. burgdoferi and this is what the human version is currently being developed to do.
It is important that a vaccine is developed, in order to combat the ticking time bomb, which Lyme disease is, an outbreak of the disease can lead to many chronic problems in people. Public awareness for Lyme disease should also increase, and the precautions you should take in order to avoid contracting Lyme disease.