New vaccines for Lyme disease to provide protection against ticks

SPOKANE, Wash. — As summer gets closer, more families are ready to kick off more activities outside, which means the risk of tick exposure becomes greater. Some tick bites can cause Lyme disease.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, each year, up to 40 cases of Lyme disease are reported in Washington State, whereas it is more prevalent in other regions of the country like the Northeast.

Although there are less Lyme disease cases in the Inland Northwest, officials from the Spokane Regional Health District say it’s still important to watch out.

“It is really important to try to protect you and your children and your pets when you are going out hiking and if you live near the woods. Ticks are common everywhere,” said Kelli Hawkins, Public Information Officer of the Spokane Regional Health District.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there may be a few options to avoid this tick-borne disease. Clinical trials of a new vaccine called VLA15 are currently underway, developed by pharmaceutical companies like Valneva and Pfizer.

Additionally, University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Massbiologics has developed an antibody single shot. Its human trials are expected soon.

But what should you do in the meantime?

“Taking pre-caution with your yard and property, or when you are out hiking, simple things such as walking down the middle of trail rather than walking into brush,” Hawkins said. “Using a repellant that has 20% DEET. That is important.”

You should also check your pets before bringing them inside.

“Most common symptom of Lyme disease is bull’s eye rash. You could also get fever, body aches, muscle aches, and joint pain,” said Hawkins.

However, if you catch your symptoms early enough, early-stage Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, which will lead to a full recovery.