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Why Your Dog Can Get A Lyme Disease Vaccine And You Can't

This article is more than 7 years old.
Canine vaccines protect against Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Canine vaccines protect against Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The other day, after a public lecture on Lyme disease, a mother in the audience quietly told me that she was planning to ask her veterinarian to immunize her children with the dog vaccine against Lyme. Good luck, I thought. But I know how you feel.

It's a question many people naturally ask, particularly dog owners: Why is there a canine Lyme disease vaccine but not a human one? WBUR's Curt Nickisch answers that question beautifully today in his story about the rise and fall of the human vaccine that was briefly available in the late 1990s. It includes an interview with Dr. Allen Steere, a giant in the field of Lyme disease research who is now at Massachusetts General Hospital. It portrays a classic story of what seems to be a greater public good falling victim to our litigious, commercial, sometimes anti-science society. And it raises the (apparently dim) prospect that the vaccine will be resurrected, or a better one developed.

Warning: Even though after reading this piece you'll understand the back-story of why no human vaccine is currently available, you may still be asking, "But why, why, why?"

This program aired on June 27, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.

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