It’s Lyme season in the United States and the risk of infection by the black-legged ticks that carry it is growing, especially with half of Americans now living on tick infested territory.
Without immediate antibiotic treatment, Lyme disease can cause debilitating heart and nervous system issues, arthritis, and other complications, making it difficult to cure. Although several vaccines are in development, the rising number of cases have reached epidemic levels: in the U.S., some 476,000 cases are reported each year accounting for about $1 billion in medical costs.
It’s become “a true health threat,” says Paul Mead, chief of the bacterial diseases branch at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Clearly there is a need for new interventions and preventions.”