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07 August 2023

Ticks Are Here, Be Prepared!

Obadiah Plante
Sr. Director, Infectious Diseases Research
Media Center > Blogs > Ticks Are Here, Be Prepared!

Summer is here—and so are the ticks. Ticks may be small, but they pose a big problem. Blacklegged (deer) ticks carry Lyme disease.¹ And the risk of getting sick is going up.²

Almost half of the people in the United States live in areas where these ticks are common.² Ticks are more active in warm weather, so it's important to take steps to stay safe and enjoy your summer without any tick troubles.

At Moderna, we are researching how to leverage mRNA technology to potentially combat bacterial pathogens, such as Lyme disease, with the of improving public health.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that spread through tick bites.¹ When an infected tick bites a person, it can pass on the bacteria. This leads to symptoms like rash, fever, headaches, and tiredness.¹ In many cases, a bulls-eye rash forms at the site of the bite.³

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause more serious problems with the joints and the heart.¹⁻³ Issues with the nervous system are also possible.¹⁻³

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The Risk is on the Rise

Lyme disease is the most widespread illness transmitted by living organisms, known as vectors, in the United States.¹ Officially, the country has about 35,000 cases of Lyme disease every year.⁴ But this number only scratches the surface. Unofficial estimates suggest a count closer to 476,000.⁴ Europe also grapples with the disease, with around 85,000 official cases each year.⁵

Climate change⁵⁻⁶ and suburban development⁷ are helping ticks thrive. Warm weather and fragmented forests provide ample habitat. As a result, Lyme disease is becoming more common.⁵⁻⁷

Kids under 15 and older adults are at the highest risk of getting infected.⁸ These individuals must exercise extra caution when outdoors in warm weather.

What are the Treatments?

Early detection of Lyme disease is crucial. Swift treatment with oral antibiotics can result in a speedy, full recovery.⁹ Advanced stages of Lyme disease may require longer antibiotic treatment.⁹

In some cases, patients may continue suffering from symptoms after the infection is gone.¹⁰⁻¹¹ This is referred to as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).¹⁰⁻¹¹ Scientists have not yet determined why symptoms can persist after treatment.¹⁰⁻¹¹ Unfortunately, there is no clear solution for this condition.¹⁰⁻¹¹

How Can I Prevent Lyme Disease?

There is currently no approved Lyme disease vaccine for humans. However, several practical steps can help reduce the risk of tick bites. Here are some ways you can stay safe this summer:

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Moderna’s Lyme Disease Program

Lyme disease is a complex illness. There are seven different bacterial strains responsible for the disease. The challenge is creating vaccines that may protect against the seven globally known strains.

At Moderna, we are developing investigational vaccine candidates for Lyme disease designed to potentially provide protection against the different strains of Lyme disease to fight the infection before it can be passed on through the blood.

These vaccines are the first time Moderna is researching and developing mRNA technology for bacterial illness. Our dedicated team remains committed to advancing mRNA medicines and developing solutions to minimize the impact of Lyme disease on individuals and communities worldwide.

Make the Most of Your Tick-Free Summer

With the right information and precautions, you can have a safe and tick-free summer. Stay informed, protect yourself, and embark on your summer adventures while keeping ticks at bay. In the meantime, Moderna plans to find new ways to help people stay healthy and win the fight against Lyme disease.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Lyme Disease."
2. Eisen RJ, et al. J Med Entomol. 2016;53(2): 349–386.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease."
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "How many people get Lyme disease?"
5. Stone BL, et al. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2017;17(9):619-629.
6. Eisen RJ, et al. J of Med Entomol. 2016;53(2): 250–261.
7. Larsen AE, et al. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014;91(4):747-755.
8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Surveillance for Lyme Disease — United States, 2008–2015."
9. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Lyme Disease Antibiotic Treatment Research."
10. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Chronic Lyme Disease."
11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome."
12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Preventing Tick Bites on People."
13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Lyme Disease: Transmission."
14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Lyme Disease Prophylaxis After Tick Bite."