The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a report warning that tick borne illnesses are rapidly spreading, prompting lawmakers including New York State Senator Chuck Schumer and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming to host a press conference last Wednesday calling on the federal government to use $900,000 in additional CDC funding approved in a bipartisan budget deal to help fight vector-borne diseases.
During Wednesday’s press conference on Long Island, Mr. Schumer called on the federal government to allow the CDC to use that funding to help track, treat and prevent tick-borne illness as the Long Island tick population explodes in the spring and summer seasons.
According to a press release issued by Ms. Fleming’s office late last week, data consistently shows that New York, and Long Island in particular, have the highest rates of tick-borne diseases in the nation. According to the recent CDC report, the number of Americans infected with Lyme disease is likely 8 to 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 Mr. 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.”
“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,” said Ms. Fleming. “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.”
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.