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Texans look forward to potential new vaccine for Lyme disease

Tick.jfif
Posted at 9:59 AM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 10:59:04-04

The CDC estimates that nearly half a million people contract Lyme disease every year in the U.S., but hope is growing that the tick-borne disease could one day be a thing of the past, as a new vaccine is in the final stages of development.

It's a battle Steffie Molla has been fighting half her life.

"I'm 28, so I've had lyme disease for about 14 years now," Molla said.

Since getting it from a tick bite as a teen, the Texas teacher says she's suffered chronic effects.

"To say it doesn't affect everything would just be a lie," she said. "For me, it centers in my gut. But another friend of mine, she has a lot of heart problems, cardiac problems."

Associate professor and entomologist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Sonja Swiger says Lyme disease isn't as common in Texas ticks.

Still, more than two thousand cases have been reported statewide since 1990.

Many, like Molla, contract the disease while traveling.

"If you're gonna be out hiking or you're gonna be in the vegetation--are you gonna spend time outdoors? That's when you want to be very concerned with your surroundings," Swiger said.

Alongside bug spray and long pants, a new layer of protection may be on the way.

Pfizer and Valneva announced Monday a lyme disease vaccine is entering the final stage of its study.

"A vaccine that can help prevent this transmission or stop it from moving forward or becoming causative in people is a great advantage," Swiger explained

If approved, the vaccine could make its way to the market…and to Texas… within a few years.

"If someone could offer me something that says you just take this and you're good...I would take it in an instant," Molla said.

In the meantime, Molla remains hoping one day, others won't have to deal with such serious consequences for a tick bite.