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Lyme disease: Could there soon be a vaccine?

Lyme disease: Could there soon be a vaccine?
In addition to TBE, ticks can also transmit Lyme disease. Photo: dpa

It has been possible to get vaccinated against the infectious disease TBE, which is transmitted by ticks, for almost 50 years. However, the arachnids also transmit diseases caused by bacteria: Lyme disease. To date, there is no vaccination against this. Now, Valneva, a Viennese company, has developed a promising vaccine called “VLA15”, which has already proven itself in an early test phase.

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The results of clinical studies have now been published in the journal “Lancet Infectious Diseases”. The result: three partial vaccinations could protect against the disease. “VLA15” is manufactured by Valneva in cooperation with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer – and is currently the world’s only Lyme disease vaccine in the clinical test phase.

Safe and well tolerated

The vaccine is designed to cover the six most common types of Lyme disease found in Europe and North America. “VLA15 was safe, well tolerated and elicited a robust antibody response in the 800 subjects aged 18 to 65 years,” Nicole Bezay and her co-authors wrote in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer is conducting further studies with around 6,000 people in the USA. The aim now is to prove that the new vaccine actually protects people from the disease. However, it will still be some time before these results are available.

Erythema migrans as a typical symptom

According to estimates, between 25,000 and 70,000 people in Austria contract Lyme disease every year, according to the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety. Lyme disease can be avoided if the body is checked for ticks in good time and these are removed professionally. Otherwise, if the disease breaks out, it can be treated with antibiotics.

A typical symptom of a Borrelia infection is the so-called erythema migrans. It usually occurs a few days after the tick bite. This distinct ring-shaped reddening of the skin is often paler in the center than at the edge. The red ring then gradually moves outwards. Typical symptoms of neuroborreliosis are nerve pain that worsens at night, as well as motor deficits such as numbness.

Other symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle and headaches, and fatigue. Very rarely, a Borrelia infection can also lead to inflammation of the heart muscle, which can manifest itself in cardiac arrhythmias.

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Source: Nachrichten

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