(Vaccine News) Lyme disease cases are on the rise in the Western world, and pharmaceutical companies are hoping to cash in on the illness with the help of a new vaccine.

In the U.S., the number of confirmed cases of the tick-borne illness in 2015 was nearly 29,000, compared to 23,000 ten years earlier. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if it is caught early. The CDC reports that those patients who get antibiotics during the early stages of the illness normally recover quickly and completely, and those who take antibiotics in later stages also tend to respond well.

The distinctive erythema migrans rash that occurs in around 70 to 80 percent of those infected starts at the site of the tick bite anywhere from three to 30 days afterward and expands to cover an area of 12 inches across, or more. It is not usually painful or itchy, but it can feel warm. It can clear up as it enlarges, which gives it the appearance of a target or bulls-eye.

While this telltale circular rash at the site of the tick bite can point to the presence of this illness, not everyone will get it, and only around one out of every three patients even remember getting bitten by a tick. Some of the other signs to look out for include fever, severe headaches, a stiff neck, drooping on one side of the face, and irregular heartbeat. Lyme disease can be diagnosed with a blood test in many cases.

When left undiagnosed, however, its effects can be more far-reaching, with about a quarter of those afflicted experiencing nervous system problems like numbness and memory issues. This has prompted some opportunistic experts to refer to the problem as a “ticking time bomb.”

Creating panic to build up vaccine demand

These scare tactics are just priming everyone for an upcoming Lyme disease vaccine that scientists have recently developed. They claim it can provide “100 percent protection” from the illness using an antibody that prevents it from passing into the human body from a tick. It works by attacking the bacteria within the tick as soon it bites.

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