Lyme Disease vaccine

A vaccine that will provide fairly effective protection against Lyme disease may be available by mid summer for people less that 65 years of age. To stimulate buildup of antibody protection, three shots of the vaccine must be administered--the second one month after the first, and the third six to l2 months after the second. A booster shot after one or two years is also required. This vaccine does not stimulate a person's immune system to develop antibodies against two other diseases that can be transmitted by the deer tick, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. Fortunately, only five cases of these diseases have been confirmed in Minnesota, although they may be under-diagnosed and under-reported. In contrast, there were 255 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in l997 in our state, and most were in east central Minnesota.

It is still important to take precautions to reduce your chances of getting a tick-borne disease, even though you have had the Lyme disease vaccine. These precautions are described in an illustrated brochure that is free of charge and available from the Minnesota Department of Health, telephone 612-623-5414, and from many D.N.R offices.. The brochure is entitled Lyme Disease--Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment, Other Tick-borne Diseases, the Deer Tick, Prevention, and Exposure. Prevention centers on wearing light-colored clothes so ticks are visible, using a tick repellent, promptly inspecting your body after spending time in the woods or grassy areas where ticks might be present, removing embedded ticks with tweezers by grasping ticks close to their mouths rather than squeezing their bodies, applying an antiseptic to the bites, and watching for signs and symptoms of the disease.