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.
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