Even without tick removal, Fikrig told New Scientist, the immune response after vaccination may encourage the tick to fall off naturally before transmitting the harmful bacteria. The research also found that the ticks tended to detach without sucking as much blood as normal.
Fikrig hopes a vaccine to simultaneously target the harmful bacteria and the ticks can be developed: “A combination … might make a vaccine that is more effective than either one individually.”
Tick-targeted vaccines may also protect against such other tick-borne diseases as anaplasmosis and babesiosis.
New Scientist also reports that other researchers are investigating whether Lyme disease could be eradicated in the wild by leaving out baits containing a chemical called hygromycin A that kills B. burgdorferi, but has little effect on most other bacteria and is harmless to animals.