WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is making a push to increase federal funding for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness research.
Senator Gillibrand is asking for $12 million in appropriations funding for the Department of Defense’s Tick-Borne Disease Research Program.
Additional funding would be used as well to implement the Kay Hagan Tick Act. Hagan was a U.S. Senator from North Carolina, and a friend of Gillibrand, who passed away from a tick-borne illness in 2019.
Current legislation is designed to support early detection and diagnosis, as well as improve treatment of the disease, however Gillibrand wants more to be done.
“Vector-borne diseases are a growing public health crisis, and it’s critical we deliver funding for research, surveillance, prevention, and outbreak response to help us combat the often-devastating and life-altering impacts of these illnesses,” explained Senator Gillibrand.
Over the past 20 years in New York, there have been 92,000 cases of Lyme disease reported. The Senator says this is concerning because the nation as a whole has seen increasing numbers of ticks, which means a higher likelihood that people contract the disease.
“New York is a hotspot for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, and our communities have felt the impact of these diseases for years,” furthered Gillibrand.
Experts are suggesting that the higher volume of ticks can be attributed to climate change; shorter winters compounded by warmer weather mean that ticks aren’t dying off at the same rate they once were. As a result, the insects have more opportunity to spread disease.
Only $191 is spent per case of Lyme disease in federal money for research and prevention, a very low number, according to Senator Gillibrand.
The Senator is also looking to acquire money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund tick-borne illness programs. This comes at a time when supporters say there needs to be more education in identifying, diagnosing, and treating Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.