Antibiotic gel successfully tested to prevent Lyme disease
If the winter continues to be so mild, the tick season could start again early next year. Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna (MedUniWien) have now discovered a new remedy for the most common tick-borne infectious disease, Lyme disease.
"An antibiotic gel based on azithromycin, an antibiotic with antibacterial properties, helps to prevent the development of Lyme disease after a tick bite," said MedUni Vienna. In the studies carried out, none of the participants suffered from Lyme disease when using the gel, the researchers report. The result of their study was published in the renowned specialist magazine "The Lancet Infectious Diseases".
Many sufferers do not know about their Lyme disease infection
Up to five percent of people who have suffered a tick bite subsequently develop Lyme disease. In view of the diagnostic gaps, however, it can be assumed that a total of around 30% of those affected do not know about it, reports the research team headed by study leader Bernd Jilma from MedUni Vienna. A broad pharmacological prevention strategy is therefore necessary. The scientists have now successfully tested one of these in a phase II / III study.
No case of Lyme disease in the test group
The preventive effect of an antibiotic gel based on azithromycin was examined in almost 1,000 patients with a fresh tick bite. The gel was applied to the bite within 72 hours of the tick bite. "None of the subjects developed Lyme disease," says study leader Bernd Jilma of the treatment result. In the control group who received a placebo, however, seven cases of Lyme disease occurred. However, the effectiveness must still be confirmed in an independent, large follow-up study before clinical use is possible.
Borrelia are successfully killed
According to the researchers, around 24,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in Austria each year, and in Western Europe there are over 200,000 new infections a year. If left untreated, the infection can "attack the joints, heart and nervous system of humans and cause serious complications," according to the MedUni Vienna. The gel offers the advantage that it has no side effects and could also be used in children, the researchers report. In addition, the application is very simple. The gel had to be applied every 12 hours for three days and "this will kill the Borrelia", says Bernd Jilma. (fp)