Senator Chuck Schumer, at a press conference at Trail View State Park in Woodbury on May 1, revealed that the recently passed bipartisan budget deal that President Trump signed includes $900 million more to help fight tick-borne diseases.
County Legislator Bridget Fleming and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and others were on hand.
The money will augment funds already given to the Centers for Disease Control to support the all-out local war against tick-borne diseases.
Specifically, the money will be used to help track, treat, and prevent tick-borne illness. Officials stressed that without urgent action, Long Island’s tick population will explode during the spring and summer seasons.
Data consistently shows that New York, and Long Island specifically, has the highest rates of tick-borne diseases in the nation. Significant education, prevention, and research can be accomplished if the CDC allocated part of the additional $900 million budget increase to immediately address tick-borne illnesses like Lyme, Babesea, Anaplasma, and others that have plagued Long Island.
The new funding could help the New York State Health Department and local health departments improve their prevention and tracking efforts.
According to the recent CDC report, the number of Americans infected with Lyme disease is likely eight to 10 times higher than the number reported, underlining the urgent need to help state and local health departments identify and treat those who become infected.
“When it comes to our exploding tick-borne disease problem, Long Island has been feeling the brunt of the brutal bite for years and would greatly benefit from an increase in federal funding necessary to head this tick season off at the pass,” said Senator Schumer. “The good news here is that we have the money, thanks to the just-passed bi-partisan federal spending bill I negotiated and President Trump signed.”
Schumer urged the CDC to implement action plans before the height of the season.
“Here in Suffolk County, we have a fantastic helpline that is connected with Stony Book Southampton Hospital that got over 900 phone calls last year alone on tick-borne illnesses,” Fleming said.
“The recent CDC report indicates that the number of tick-borne illnesses has more than doubled in less than a decade. We know that ticks are on the move.”
Fleming noted Lone Star ticks have migrated from the south and their population continues to spread. “We also just got a report of a new species of tick, The Longhorn tick, which was found in Union County, New Jersey,” she added.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of the public. We thank Senator Schumer for once again putting people first and ensuring that this funding is available to protect our residents from tick-borne diseases before they are contracted,” Curran said.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks that can be transmitted by a bite to a human or animal host. Untreated, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi travels through the bloodstream, manifests in body tissues, and causes mild or severe symptoms.
Lyme disease begins as a rash at the location of the tick bite and then spreads to the nervous system and joints. Early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are crucial to recovery. With early diagnosis, Lyme disease is cured almost 100 percent of the time. The disease is most prevalent on the Upper East Coast and Midwest, especially in densely wooded areas with an aptitude for humidity.