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Ticks Do Not Die Off In Fall/Winter & LI Physicians Are Combatting Tick-Borne Disease Year-Round; Lyme, Babesea & Anaplasma --All Diseases That Don’t Hibernate Once You’re Infected

   New York Is Target #1 For Ticks & LI Has Been At The Epicenter Of Tick-Borne War; Senator-- Now Armed With Brand New Findings-- Wants Feds To Deploy 2019 Battle Plan In Defense Of Island’s Tick War

Schumer: The Ticks Don’t Sleep & Neither Should The Feds; 2019 Could Be Game-Changer

Standing at a Long Island home in the midst of Fall yard work, while armed with a just-out report on tick-borne disease—a first-ever roadmap to beat it back—U..S. Senator Charles Schumer will unveil and point to its findings while urging the feds, specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to chart a 2019 battle plan to combat the long-fought and year-round tick war on Long Island. Schumer will reiterate that when it comes to the scourge of ticks across the country and in New York, Long Island is at the epicenter of the plight. Schumer will stand at a LI home with neighbors and medical professionals who are both worried about and treat tick-borne diseases year-round. Experts will explain why it is so critical for the feds to do all they can to perfect rapid testing, develop a vaccine for Lyme, and invest robust federal funds into prevention efforts, as well. Schumer will say this brand new report—which took 2 years to complete—lays out a path to victory in the war on ticks across Long Island, but that the feds have to focus and follow through as the New Year approaches. 

"As 2019 approaches, this new year should and could be the game-changer we've waited for to advance the tick war on Long Island, but we've got to act now," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. "For two years, at the urging of Congress, the feds have compiled the data, combed the research and sought out the experts to produce today's report, but now we need to heed all this work because the ticks do not sleep and neither should the feds. Even now, Long Islanders faced with Fall yard work are rightfully nervous to even rake their leaves or have their kids enjoy fun in a pile, because they know what could be lurking. The bottom line is that the ticks have worn out their welcome here on the Island and need to be beaten back in a way that this report can help ensure: for the long haul."  

This new report to Congress, authored by the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, was born out of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, Section 2062, which requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish an advisory committee to review current research efforts and make recommendations for the improvement of existing federal activities related to tick-borne diseases. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Working Group, as mandated by statute, is composed of 7 non-Federal members and 7 Federal members. The Working Group created subgroups with 53 additional non-federal members to draft recommendations. In addition, many patients and advocates submitted comments to the Working Group, describing their experiences with tick-borne diseases.

Armed with the report, Schumer says HHS must now fully coordinate 2019 federal efforts on five priorities he believes will make the difference in 2019:   

  • Develop a vaccine ASAP
  • Develop more rapid tests to identify disease in an urgent care-type setting
  • Develop and research new disease treatments to mitigate disease damage and spread in body
  • Expand physician education efforts at all levels
  • Increase fed funds allocated to National Institute of Health (NIH) to help propel the aforementioned

Schumer’s amendment to increase Lyme disease funding at the CDC from $10.7 million to $12 million was included in the most recent appropriations bill that was signed into law, of which a portion is being allocated directly to fighting Lyme in New York. Schumer said the CDC can use some of the new money it received to implement parts of this plan, and Schumer announced he will push for more funding in FY2020 to continue to give the feds the funding they need to fully implement this plan.

Schumer explained that the feds, armed with a host of recommendations from the new report, should comb through the most attainable and critical goals to develop the 2019 battle plan to combat diseases like Lyme on the Island. Schumer said there are a wide range of priorities that can be achieved if the feds commit to getting the deliverables of this report accomplished. For example, Schumer says 'priority number one' must be the development of a safe and effective Lyme vaccine. The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group report says “effective vaccines against Lyme disease are feasible”, and notes how one could be developed for patients.

The report also suggests that the feds should research and develop diagnostic tests that would improve the rate of Lyme disease diagnosis, prioritize research in various new Lyme treatments, as well as develop physician education modules to better educate clinicians on how to recognize and treat Lyme disease. Improved rates of Lyme disease diagnosis would allow most individuals who present symptoms of early Lyme disease to recover with a sufficient course of antibiotics. Schumer argues that the feds must advance the ability of health care professionals to accurately diagnose and effectively treat patients with tick-borne diseases. According to the report, “establishing highly successful treatment regimens for some Lyme disease presentations and other tick-borne diseases is an ongoing challenge for researchers, clinicians, and patients”, thus the prioritization of new Lyme treatment research is imperative. Schumer is urging the feds to focus on this recommendation, too, as 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are occurring every year in the U.S.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks, which can be transmitted by a bite to a human or animal host. If left untreated, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferitravels through the bloodstream, manifests itself in body tissues, and causes mild or severe symptoms, depending on the case. Lyme disease begins as a rash at the location of the tick bite. It then spreads to the nervous system and joints. Early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment is crucial to recovery. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, Lyme disease is cured almost 100% 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.

Lyme disease is extremely prevalent in New York State, with more than 9,000 cases reported in 2017, though the actual number of Lyme disease cases is expected to be about ten times greater. According to the New York State Department of Health, there were 651 reported cases of Lyme disease on Long Island in 2017. According to NYS Department of Health, in 2017 there were 128 reported cases of Lyme disease in Nassau County, and 523 reported cases in Suffolk County. In 2016, there were 798 reported cases of Lyme disease across Long Island; 154 of those cases were reported in Nassau County; and 644 of those cases were reported in Suffolk County.

According to the New York State Department of Health (which does not include ALL tick-borne cases):


Lyme Disease Reported Cases 2017

Lyme Disease Reported Cases 2016










Just last year Schumer urged the full implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to continue to research methods for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. Ultimately, the report detailed by Schumer today aims to more quickly advance this research, identify, and treat tick-borne diseases and launch a national response or 'battle plan' to significantly enhance the DHHS’ ability to stop the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

“As an infectious diseases specialist I was particularly pleased by the Working Group Report's focus on supporting vaccine development and the enhancement of optimized testing,” said David Hirschwerk, MD, executive vice chair of clinical services in the Department of Medicine at both North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center. “Additionally, the report refers to some groups of patients who have prolonged symptoms even after treatment of Lyme. There's a genuine need to better understand the mechanism of this and to develop strategies to best manage these symptoms.”

Schumer has long pushed for federal funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme, which has seen an increase in cases across New York State. In 2015, Schumer pushed for legislation to boost the federal government’s ability to research, identify and treat the disease as well as launch a national response to significantly enhance the HHS’ ability to stop the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Additionally, in 2013, Schumer called on the CDC to immediately allocate resources towards the study, prevention, and treatment of Lyme and the emerging POW virus threat in New York. 

Schumer was joined by County Executive Curran, Supervisor Bosworth, Nassau Commissioner of Health Larry Eisenstein, Vice-Chair of Infectious Disease at Northwell Health Dr. David Hirschwerk, Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kauffman of Cornell Cooperative Extension and Brad Schwartz a Lyme disease survivor.