Reservoir targeted vaccine against Borrelia burgdorferi: a new strategy to prevent Lyme disease transmission

J Infect Dis. 2014 Jun 15;209(12):1972-80. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu005. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


A high prevalence of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi in ixodid ticks is correlated with a high incidence of Lyme disease. The transmission of B. burgdorferi to humans can be disrupted by targeting 2 key elements in its enzootic cycle: the reservoir host and the tick vector. In a prospective 5-year field trial, we show that oral vaccination of wild white-footed mice resulted in outer surface protein A-specific seropositivity that led to reductions of 23% and 76% in the nymphal infection prevalence in a cumulative, time-dependent manner (2 and 5 years, respectively), whereas the proportion of infected ticks recovered from control plots varied randomly over time. Significant decreases in tick infection prevalence were observed within 3 years of vaccine deployment. Implementation of such a long-term public health measure could substantially reduce the risk of human exposure to Lyme disease.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease; Oral vaccine; enzootic cycle; transmission; wildlife reservoir.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • Disease Reservoirs / microbiology
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary
  • Lipoproteins / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / prevention & control*
  • Lyme Disease / transmission*
  • Lyme Disease Vaccines / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Peromyscus / immunology
  • Peromyscus / microbiology
  • Ticks / immunology
  • Ticks / microbiology
  • Vaccination / methods*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lyme Disease Vaccines
  • OspA protein