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The Hudson Valley Is The Epicenter Of Tick-Borne Diseases Like Lyme, Powassan, Babesia & Anaplasma; As Weather Heats Up, Schumer & Local Public Health Officials Warn Ticks Will Multiply & Many People, Especially Kids, Could Be Stricken With Illness; But We Can And Should Do More To Head Off  Upcoming Tick Season On HV At The Pass

Schumer Reveals That Just-Passed Omnibus Spending Bill, Includes $900M More In CDC Dollars – Funds That HV Deserves & Needs; Senator Makes Urgent Case For Feds To Unlock These Dollars & Swiftly Deliver Fair Share To HV 

Schumer: The Feds Need To Send In The Dollars Rockland/Westchester/Putnam Need To Fight The Tick War  

On the heels of a brand new and shocking Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that warns tick infections are spreading rapidly, and with temperatures across Rockland County and the lower Hudson Valley spiking into the 80’s, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed the CDC can do more to actively support the all-out local war against tick-borne diseases. Specifically, Schumer detailed that the feds now possess a new surge in CDC dollars – $900M more than last year to be exact—that can be tapped fight tick-borne diseases across the Hudson Valley. But that – without urgent action – those same dollars could sit in bureaucratic limbo just as Rockland-Westchester-Putnam’s tick population explodes this summer.  Specifically, Schumer is pushing to unlock some of these new federal dollars, from the recently-passed bipartisan federal omnibus spending bill President Trump signed into law, so public health officials in Rockland County and across the Hudson Valley can use them now, not after disease cases and public anxiety spikes.

“When it comes to our exploding tick-borne disease problem, the Hudson Valley 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 U.S. Senator Charles 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. The bad news is that under the current system, by the time these federal dollars make their way to critical communities like the Rockland, Westchester and Putnam Counties, the tick season could be well underway. That’s why, today, I am turning up the spotlight on the Hudson Valley’s tick plight and urging the CDC to use the increase in funding we directed their way to do more to help the counties fight tick-borne diseases like Lyme, Babesia, and Powassan.”

Schumer said it is vital for the CDC to use some of its $900 million budget increase to immediately address tick-borne illnesses like Powassan and Lyme. Specifically, Schumer said the CDC should use some of this new funding to amplify local prevention efforts in Rockland County and across the Hudson Valley. The new funding could help New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) and local health departments improve their prevention and tracking efforts. The CDC reported on May 1, 2018, that the number of Americans actually infected with Lyme disease is likely 8-10 times higher than the number reported, underlining the urgent need to help state and local health departments identify and treat those who become infected.  Schumer said it is critical the CDC make sure these resources are disseminated as widely as possible in high impact areas like Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam Counties. Schumer also called on the CDC to develop a special community education and outreach program to make sure people are aware of they can prevent tick bites, as well as continue to expand its continuing medical education (CME) program so that health care providers are fully equipped to recognize and treat tick-borne illnesses.

Schumer continued: “I want some of the newly-directed dollars given to the CDC to land here to the Hudson Valley – before ticks takeoff, not after. The bottom line is that the feds need to send the dollars the Hudson Valley needs to not just fight the tick war but to win. We need help tracking, treating and preventing tick-borne diseases, which is why I fought so hard for these additional CDC dollars in the first place.”  

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 burgdorferi travels 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 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.

Lyme disease is extremely prevalent in Rockland and Westchester Counties – the Hudson Valley has been dubbed the “epicenter” of tick-borne illness. According to a LoHud report, since 2000, Westchester has seen 4739 cases of Lyme, Putnam has had 2,883, while Rockland has seen 2817 cases with the counties ranking 6th, 10th and 11th respectively in New York State for reported Lyme diseases cases. Lyme disease is extremely prevalent in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties, with over 9,900 reported cases since 2000. Recent trends have shown that Lyme disease infections in Westchester and Rockland have been rising steadily over the past four years, reaching a peak for those time frames in the last recorded year, 2015.


























Over the last 15 years, the Hudson Valley has seen thousands of Lyme disease cases. Schumer said that according to the New York State Department of Health, reported Lyme Disease cases in the seven-year period from 2008-2015 have increased over 500 percent when compared to the previous seven years. Schumer said these totals underscore the fact that Lyme disease has become a significant threat for Central New York, as more residents are being diagnosed every year. Another disease, transmitted similarly to Lyme, is called Powassan Virus (POW).

There have been approximately 75 cases of POW in the last decade, 16 of which were in New York. As of 2013, multiple Putnam County residents and one Westchester resident were diagnosed with the virus. According to a 2013 study by Dupuis et al, the deer tick virus, a genetically and ecologically distinct lineage of Powassan virus, was identified each year from 2007 to 2012 in nymphal and adult l.scapularis, collected from the Hudson Valley. 58 tick pools were positive for the virus and/or RNA Infection rates were higher in adult tickers collected from areas east of the Hudson River.

Schumer has long pushed for federal funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme and Powassan, which has seen an increase in cases across New York State. Recently, during an in-person meeting with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Schumer got a firm commitment from the director that he would be working to address Lyme in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Additionally, Schumer played an integral role in securing new funding for the CDC in the recently passed omnibus — Schumer, one of 4 negotiators, secured $8.005 billion in the federal funding for the CDC, a $900 million increase from FY17. Schumer said this new funding that could be used to research and prevent tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease. Schumer also helped secure a historic $3 billion increase in NIH funding, which can be used to expand and build upon existing NIH-funded Lyme disease research that is already occurring at New York institutions such as Columbia University, in the SUNY system and at Hunter College.

Schumer was joined by Dr. Sheila Margaret Nolan, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at both Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of Pediatrics for NY Medical College, Dr. Maria Cecilia Mosquera, Rockland County Health Department Medical Director, Dr. Ada Huang, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control in Westchester County, Barbara Ilardi, Putnam County Health Department’s Lead Public Information Officer and New York State Senator David Carlucci.

“Rockland County and the Hudson Valley are the epicenter of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. “I want to thank Senator Schumer for his advocacy and for securing more money to fight and research Lyme disease. Now is the time to bring that federal money here to fight tick-borne diseases and safeguard our families during the summer season.”

“Putnam County has had a long-standing history in the fight against Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases,” said Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, Putnam County Interim Commissioner of Health. “These diseases are on the rise in our county and elsewhere and we are grateful Senator Schumer is helping to secure funding for more research and education.”

“At least 2623 New Yorkers were diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2016, and many public health officials are concerned the number may be underreported,” said Congresswoman Lowey.  “As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped negotiate the final fiscal year 2018 spending bill that includes important CDC investments such as $10.7 million for Lyme Disease and $38.6 million for vector-borne diseases to better track the prevalence of this debilitating disease.   It is imperative that CDC use this funding to better coordinate with health officials in New York, and specifically the Lower Hudson Valley, so we can better identify and treat Lyme disease.”

“We appreciate Sen. Schumer’s advocacy,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Westchester County Commissioner of Health. “More funding to help educate the public and prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease would certainly be welcome.”

“A bite from an infected tick can cause Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Powassan,” said Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert. “Since there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease, public education and prevention are the most important measures we can take to protect local residents and their families.”

Schumer made this push as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other tick-borne disease experts predict that this summer could be one of the worst when it comes to the population of ticks.