There Used To Be A Vaccine For Lyme Disease, Till Anti-Vaxxers Stepped In


It’s springtime, which means that something as innocent as tall grass gives images of creepy crawlies and not-at-all-sexy naked tick checks. It’s even worse when a pet has been exposed and you have to find a tiny tick through a thick layer of fur.

Not all ticks are dangerous, but there are certain kinds of ticks that carry Lyme disease, which can be transmitted to humans and pets.

The symptoms of Lyme disease are awful and can include fevers, rashes, a droopy face, severe headaches, stiff neck, meningitis, painful and swollen joints, arthritis, shooting pains and heart palpitations. The symptoms can last months or entire lives, although most patients can make a full recovery with antibiotics.

If there was ever a symbol for the damage that the anti-science crowd can do to society, it’s Lyme disease. Right now, we are in the middle of an epidemic, and the cause of the epidemic can be directly traced to global climate change. Currently, a full 10 percent of New England residents have some symptoms of Lyme disease.

The number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States has been on an upward trend, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1995, there were 11,700 confirmed cases. In 2013, there were 27,203 confirmed cases, as well as another 9,104 probable cases. Ninety-five percent of reported cases in 2013 came from 14 states — located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Upper Midwest. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease reported in the United States.

Climate change is increasing not only the range in which Lyme disease-carrying ticks can survive — ticks are moving into warming Canada and other northern locations — but the amount of time in which ticks can feed, according to a recent study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Source: Scientific American

Climate change deniers aren’t the only anti-science people setting us back in the fight against Lyme disease. A few years ago, there was a vaccine for Lyme disease and anti-vaxxers caused it to go off the market.

You may know that your dog can be vaccinated against Lyme disease, but you cannot. Currently, the only way a human has of avoiding the ticks that cause Lyme disease is to stay out of tall grass and to completely cover up below the waist, which includes tucking your not-very-summery long pants into your equally not-very-summary high top socks.

In the late 90s, SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) developed a vaccine called LYMErix. The vaccine, as tested, had an 80 percent success rate on adults and a 100 percent success rate on children, although there were some limitations on the types of ticks affected and by the fact that it took multiple vaccines and up to a year to reach full immunity.

However, a group of anti-vaxxers claimed that the protein in the vaccine would be viewed as a foreign substance by the body, causing the body’s immune system to attack itself and ultimately causing autoimmune arthritis (similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis).

Of course, as soon as the vaccine hit the market, there were reports right and left of people developing the autoimmune arthritis and the story took hold in the mainstream media. They even labeled people “vaccine victims.” As you may or may not know, every single complaint about a vaccine, regardless of its validity, is registered with the federal government.

Between December, 1998 and July, 2000, 905 adverse reactions to LYMErix were reported. Sixty-six were called serious. Fifty-nine cases of arthritis were reported. This was out of 1.4 million doses of the vaccine that were given across the country.

After investigation, the FDA found that with the exception of temporary skin irritation, which happens with pretty much any vaccine, none of the reported side effects were seen at a greater rate than with non-vaccinated people.

But that didn’t stop the class action lawsuits and the decline in LYMRrix’s sales. Eventually, SmithKline Beecham pulled the vaccine off the market. Thirteen years after it was pulled off the market, there is still no evidence that LYMRrix was the cause of any of the reported cases of arthritis.

Fortunately, though, a new vaccine is in the clinical trial phase.


Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info