Last summer I asked if gardeners were remembering to worry about Lyme Disease while we’re all freaking out over covid, and reported the prediction that we’d have a vaccine for Lyme in 2025. Here’s an update.
The CDC’s website, updated in October of 2020, says that:
A vaccine for Lyme disease is not currently available. The only vaccine previously marketed in the United States, LYMERix®, was discontinued by the manufacturer in 2002, citing insufficient consumer demand. Protection provided by this vaccine decreases over time. Therefore, if you received this vaccine before 2002, you are probably no longer protected against Lyme disease.
Wait – insufficient demand? With the millions of gardeners, landscape workers, hikers, hunters, and others working or recreating outdoors in this country and the other 80+ countries where the disease is found?
The CDC goes on:
The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s MassBiologics has developed a human monoclonal antibody designed to be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for Lyme disease. Human trials are expected to begin soon. This approach would provide seasonal protection against Lyme disease. It would likely consist of a single shot that people would get each year at the beginning of tick season.
More about that from the NY Post:
The inoculation against the tick-borne disease…received federal approval last year and is now part of an initial clinical trial…The vaccine is being tested on 66 patients in Lincoln, Nebraska, and could be available to the public in the the spring of 2023.
Spring of 2023 – now just two years away! Or as one commenter wrote about the development: “So, two more years of white socks?…Two more years of fear in the forest?” Indeed.
This fully covid-vaccinated gardener is eagerly awaiting her pre-exposure shot (not the same as a a “vaccine”?) and finally happy to have found tick-repelling clothes that are more suitable to gardening than the ones in the image above.
I totally love the permethrin-soaked lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirt that just arrived and that I’m modeling in this photo taken yesterday. I bought them from Insect Shield (sales of which this blog doesn’t receive a commission), and I also pull my Insect Shield socks up over the pants and use a bit of Deet on my exposed skin. I also have a permethrin-soaked bandana I wear when I’m gardening among shoulder-height or taller plants.
(The fanny pack holds my phone and – when I’m gardening way from home, as in this photo – my car keys.)
Then when I get home I put everything I’ve worn (except the Crocs) in a plastic bag in my freezer for at least a few hours. I’m not actually sure that works to kill ticks that may be on my clothes, but it gives me some extra peace of mind.
Unfortunately, I can’t resist occasionally popping into the garden in my normal clothes to do something or other, thinking it’ll be too briefly to matter. Ha! So I do still get the occasional tick bite and when I do I take two doses of doxycycline, per my doctor’s recommendation, and hope for the best.
But like the freedom from fear I’m now enjoying after my J&J shot, I sure look forward to fear-free gardening in 2023 and thereafter.