Senator Chuck Schumer revealed that the recently passed bipartisan budget deal that President Trump signed includes $900M more in CDC dollars that Long Island deserves to help fight Vector-Borne diseases.
A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report warns that tick infections are rapidly spreading. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer revealed today that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) can do more to actively support the all-out local war against tick-borne diseases. Specifically, the CDC is now sitting on an additional $900M that can be used to fight tick-borne diseases across Long Island by helping to track, treat and prevent tick-borne illness. However, without urgent action those same dollars could be held up as Long Island’s tick population explodes during the spring and summer seasons. This money will allow public health officials across the Island to start to research, prevent, and treat tick-borne diseases before the height of the season.
Data consistently shows that New York, and Long Island specifically, have 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 New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) 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 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.
“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 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 Long Island, the tick season could be well underway, or worse, over. That’s why, today, I am turning up the spotlight on Long Island’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, Babesea and Anaplasma. I want some of the newly directed dollars given to the CDC to land here on Long Island before ticks takeoff, not after. The bottom line is that the feds need to send in the dollars Long Island 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.”
Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming stated that “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. 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. We have Lone Star ticks which have migrated from the south and continue 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. The CDC Report also identifies 5 Key Competencies that Local health departments and vector control organizations must implement to properly control diseases from ticks, which includes, 1) Monitoring and tracking mosquitoes and ticks locally; 2) Using data to drive local decisions about vector control; 3) Having an action plan to kill mosquitoes and ticks at every life stage; 4) Controlling vectors using multiple types of methods; 5) Conducting pesticide-resistance testing. Suffolk County Vector Control has developed these Key Competencies while the CDC report indicates that only 1 in 5 vector control organizations are properly prepared to prevent and control the outbreak of tick-borne illnesses. An increase in funding for Suffolk County Vector Control will allow for implementation of a carefully-structured plan to effectively manage the tick population and increase prevention, treatment, tracking, and education regarding tick-borne illnesses.”
“Tick-borne disease has become a national public health crisis that demands an aggressive and comprehensive response from our federal government. While Suffolk County is leading the way with innovative research and preventative measures, we need Washington to step up to the plate to ensure we have the resources needed to get the job done. I applaud Senator Schumer for his willingness to identify this problem for what it is on Long Island and give our counties the dollars we need to be successful in this fight,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
“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”, said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks, which 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.
According to health data compiled by Schumer’s office, and data from the CDC report, the tick-borne disease trend has not let up in recent years and Long Island stands out as severely hard-hit when compared to the rest of New York in the number of cases of serious tick-borne diseases, like Lyme, Babesea and Anaplasma, as seen below: