Diversity and mutations in the genes for outer surface proteins (Osps) A and B of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (B. burgdorferi), the spirochetal agent of Lyme disease, suggests that a monovalent OspA or OspB vaccine may not provide protection against antigenically variable naturally occurring B. burgdorferi. We now show that OspA or OspB immunizations protect mice from tick-borne infection with heterogeneous B. burgdorferi from different geographic regions. This result is in distinct contrast to in vitro killing analyses and in vivo protection studies using syringe injections of B. burgdorferi as the challenge inoculum. Evaluations of vaccine efficacy against Lyme disease and other vector-borne infections should use the natural mode of transmission and not be predicated on classification systems or assays that do not rely upon the vector to transmit infection.

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