In wake of Lyme disease vaccine for people, mice may be next in line for shots

sus placebo. This translates to a possible 27 percent reduction in nymphal infection had all the mice been vaccinated.

But the study also showed that in many forests, vaccinating mice alone wouldn't be enough. Different forests have different mixes of wildlife, and the conventional wisdom of the mice-deer-tick cycle is too simple to effectively battle Lyme disease. The development of an oral vaccine would allow for greater vaccination coverage of both mice and other animal hosts.

"We've learned we shouldn't naively ignore other hosts shrews, chipmunks, robins, and maybe others," Tsao said. "Unexpectedly, other hosts contribute more to maintaining bacteria than we had thought. Other people might be deterred by the complexity. But just because nature is complex shouldn't mean we shouldn't try to design a solution."

Other authors on the paper, "An ecological approach to preventing human infection: vaccinating wild mouse reservoirs intervenes in the Lyme disease cycle," are J. Timothy Wootton at the University of Chicago; Durland Fish at Yale University School of Medicine; and Jonas Bunikis, Maria Gabriela Luna and Alan Barbour at the University of California at Irvine.


Contact: Jean Tsao
Michigan State University

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