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Healthy Living

Tick

Lyme Disease Vaccine

There is a new vaccine called LYMErix that is available in some areas. Here is a bit about this vaccine:

LYMErix a series of three shots, in order to achieve the maximum effectiveness of this vaccine. The first two shots are a month apart and the third is six months to a year later. The vaccine is about 50% protective after the first two shots. Even at it's maximum effectiveness, the vaccine has been shown to be only about 80% effective after all three shots.

Who should not have this vaccine:

  • If you presently have Lyme disease or suspect you have Lyme disease, you should not start the vaccination process until your treatment is complete.
  • If you are less than 15 or more than 70 years old, you should not have this vaccine.
  • If you currently have a fever or a severe illness, you should not begin the series until the illness has resolved.
  • If you had a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine in the past, you should not have this vaccine.

Some other important information:

How the disease is spread:

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of ticks of the genus Ixodes that are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. The deer (or bear) tick, which normally feeds on the white-footed mouse, the white-tailed deer, other mammals, and birds, is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease bacteria to humans in the northeastern and north-central United States. (In these regions, this tick is also responsible for the spreading of babesiosis, a disease caused by a malaria-like parasite.) On the Pacific Coast, the bacteria are transmitted to humans by the western black-legged tick, and in the southeastern states possibly by the black-legged tick.

Ixodes ticks are much smaller than common dog and cattle ticks. In their larval and nymphal stages, they are no bigger than a pinhead. Adult ticks are slightly larger.

Research in the eastern United States has indicated that, for the most part, ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans during the nymph stage, probably because nymphs are more likely to feed on a person and are rarely noticed because of their small size (less than 2 mm). Thus, the nymphs typically have ample time to feed and transmit the infection (ticks are most likely to transmit infection after approximately 2 or more days of feeding).

Ticks search for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs (not from trees) and transfer to animals or persons that brush against vegetation. Ticks only crawl; they do not fly or jump. Ticks found on the scalp usually have crawled there from lower parts of the body. Ticks feed on blood by inserting their mouth parts (not their whole bodies) into the skin of a host animal. They are slow feeders: a complete blood meal can take several days. As they feed, their bodies slowly enlarge.

Campers, hikers, outdoor workers, and others who frequent wooded, brushy, and grassy places are commonly exposed to ticks, and this may be important in the transmission of Lyme disease in some areas. Because new homes are often built in wooded areas, transmission of Lyme disease near homes has become an important problem in some areas of the United States. The risk of exposure to ticks is greatest in the woods and garden fringe areas of properties, but ticks may also be carried by animals into lawns and gardens.

For Lyme disease to exist in an area, at least three closely interrelated elements must be present in nature: the Lyme disease bacteria, ticks that can transmit them, and mammals (such as mice and deer) to provide food for the ticks in their various life stages. Ticks that transmit Lyme disease can be found in temperate regions that may have periods of very low or high temperature and a constant high relative humidity at ground level.

The life cycle of these ticks requires 2 years to complete. Adult ticks feed and mate on large animals, especially deer, in the fall and early spring. Female ticks then drop off these animals to lay eggs on the ground. By summer, eggs hatch into larvae.

Larvae feed on mice and other small mammals and birds in the summer and early fall and then are inactive until the next spring when they molt into nymphs.

Nymphs feed on small rodents and other small mammals and birds in the late spring and summer and molt into adults in the fall, completing the 2-year life cycle.

Larvae and nymphs typically become infected with Lyme disease bacteria when they feed on infected small animals, particularly the white-footed mouse. The bacteria remain in the tick as it changes from larva to nymph or from nymph to adult. Infected nymphs and adult ticks then bite and transmit Lyme disease bacteria to other small rodents, other animals, and humans, all in the course of their normal feeding behavior.

The chances of being bitten by a tick can be decreased with a few precautions

  • Avoid tick-infested areas, especially in May, June, and July (many local health departments and park or extension services have information on the local distribution of ticks).

  • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.

  • Tape the area where pants and socks meet so that ticks cannot crawl under clothing.

  • Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and on exposed skin other than the face, or treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact.

  • Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt for added protection.

  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush.

After being outdoors, remove clothing and wash and dry it at a high temperature; inspect body carefully and remove attached ticks with tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pulling straight back with a slow steady force; avoid crushing the tick's body. In some areas, ticks (saved in a sealed container) can be submitted to the local health department for identification.

Thanks to Healthy Living member ~CJ~ for posting this information in the message board!

For further information: Lyme Disease-CDC

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