Lyme disease subverts immune system, prevents future protection

July 2nd, 2015 – University of California, Davis 

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are able to trick an animal’s immune system into not launching a full-blown immune response or developing lasting immunity to the disease, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The discovery may explain why some human patients remain vulnerable to repeat infections by the same strain of bacteria, especially in regions where Lyme disease is prevalent. It also suggests that blood tests may not be an effective method for detecting previous exposure to Lyme disease, by far the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and Europe.

Findings from this mouse-based study are reported July 2 in the online scientific journal PLOS Pathogens, published by the Public Library of Science.

“We demonstrated that an animal infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the corkscrew-shaped bacteria that cause Lyme disease, launches only a short-lived immune response, …

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