A simple antibiotic cream has proven highly effective in the fight against Lyme disease, a serious tick-transmitted illness, Austrian researchers said Tuesday.
Tested on 1,000 patients, the ointment was 100% effective in preventing the disease if applied twice daily for three days within 72 hours after being bitten by a tick, University of Vienna scientists reported in The Lancet medical journal. “None have developed Lyme,” said research leader Bern Jilma. In the group receiving a placebo, seven patients contracted Lyme.
Discovered in the United States in 1975, the disease is caused by so-called Borrelia bacteria, which can lead to grave neurological and joint problems if untreated. The flu-like symptoms include muscle and joint ache, headache, nausea and vomiting.
Traditionally, people suspected of having the disease may have to take a strong dose of antibiotics for up to three weeks.
The cream, which is currently still in its testing phase, could help avoid such drastic treatments, researchers said. Around 20% of ticks in Europe carry the Borrelia bacteria.