Tick Tock: Time for Some Real Action on Lyme Disease

Tick Tock: Time for Some Real Action on Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has, in recent years, infiltrated the privileged world of velvet ropes and red carpets, with celebrities such as Yolanda Hadid and Alec Baldwin recounting the horrors of living with an illness borne of the bite of a tiny insect carrying a catastrophic punch.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings, and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.
The highest prevalence of Lyme disease is observed in the Northeast and Midwest regions. According to CDC data, the illness is extremely prevalent in the five boroughs, with more than 8,000 cases diagnosed over the past 15 years.
Yet even with Lyme on the lips of the moneyed and powerful, it seems that this country is not doing enough to educate its citizenry and attack an enemy that, quite simply, is destroying lives.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is, thankfully, an exception. For several years, the senior senator from our neck of increasingly dangerous woods has been rallying attention to this incredibly potent illness—and the funds and resources that are crucial to crushing Lyme and restoring a semblance of quality of life to those that suffer from it.
Earlier this month, ahead of what experts have projected to be one of the worst summers for tick-borne diseases in years, Schumer urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly and fully implement federal legislation – the 21st Century Cares Act, that was, by the way, passed LAST YEAR – that will prioritize the research, vaccine development, and treatment strategies to help stamp out tick-borne diseases such as Lyme —and the newly emerging disease, Powassan, which is said to be even deadlier than Lyme.
“Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are in a sprint to spread this summer, but the federal response to combat this trend is moving along at a snail’s pace,” Schumer said. “We must do more and we must do more now to protect kids and families.”
Schumer noted that the passed legislation aims to continue to research methods for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. In addition, the bill establishes a working group to make recommendations on existing programs and research and to prepare a report summarizing these recommendations as well as current federal research efforts related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Ultimately, the bill aims to research, identify, and treat the disease as well as launch a national response to significantly enhance the Department of Health and Human Services’ ability to stop the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
“In times like these, it is imperative that we do all that we can to halt the continued spread,” Schumer added. “There is no more time to waste and HHS must step up their game.”


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