Prevention of lyme disease: A review of the evidence

Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

53 Scopus citations


The Healthy People 2010 public health goals targeted a 44% decrease in the incidence of Lyme disease, the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. To review Lyme disease prevention, clinical trials, epidemiological and experimental studies, and predictive models were evaluated. Geographic distribution of ixodid vectors and local landscape predict Lyme disease risk. Density of infected ticks correlates with incidence and prevalence of Lyme disease, but risk quantitation is made uncertain by tick aggregation and inability to predict tick-human interactions. Outdoor activities are inconsistently or weakly associated with risk, and most infections likely occur in residential areas during routine activities. Tick control (burning or removing vegetation, acaricide use, and deer elimination) reduces Ixodes scapularis populations by up to 94%, and acaricide application to wildlife decreases nymphal I scapularis populations by up to 83%. The effect of these strategies on incidence of Lyme disease in humans is unknown. Studies show that only 40% to 50% of adults take precautions against tick bites even when they are aware of Lyme disease. Effective protection afforded by personal precautions (wearing protective clothing, avoiding ticks, and using insect repellant) has not been shown prospectively. Antimicrobial prophylaxis of tick bites is not warranted. Clinical trials showed vaccines containing recombinant OspA of Borrelia burgdorferi to be efficacious and well tolerated. Currently, vaccination is the only empirically demonstrated method to prevent Lyme disease. The best evidence supports prevention efforts focused on practices that encourage immunization, Lyme disease awareness, and possibly treatment of deer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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