Lyme vaccine being worked on, but doctors warn of other tick-borne diseases

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As cases of Lyme disease continued to rise, doctors are working on a vaccine. One of those vaccines is being developed by an Upstate Medical University doctor. While that one is still a few years from hitting the market, NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla tells us why Lyme isn’t the only disease tickets can give us.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — These bugs are so small, we often don’t see them. And what some of them are carrying can be deadly.

More and more people are getting Lyme disease, but doctors like Kris Paolino at Upstate Medical University warn that there are other tick-borne infections people should worry about.

“The big one is anaplasmosis,” Dr. Paolino said.

Anaplasmosis mimics the flu and if it isn’t caught early and treated with antibiotics…

“It’s a fatal illness people can get sick and die,” Paolino said.

Paolino says there are five cases of anaplasmosis already reported in Binghamton this year and that’s just one of the infections people should be worrying about.

“Powassan gets a lot of press because it generally has a high fatality rate and people who do survive it oftentimes have a neurological compromise,” Paolino said.

But is Lyme really getting that much worse or are people just now starting to talk about it more?”

Dr. Paolino said, “It’s probably a combination. I do think there are more ticks and there are more ticks with infections.”

Dr. Paolino tells us the key is early treatment and hopefully a vaccine someday. There was a vaccine in the 90s, but the company pulled it from the market in 2002 after more than 100 people claimed it gave them arthritis. Now, doctors are working to repurpose that into a safer vaccine.

A doctor who works at Upstate is on a research team working on a different vaccine, but it is not actively happening in Syracuse.

The vaccine they’re working to repurpose is in phase two right now and then would need on more phase after that, so it could be another five or six years before the vaccine would be ready for the public.

In the meantime, keep the repellant close by and do your tick checks!

For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla

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