https://poststar.com/news/local/doctors-advocates-frustrated-by-inaction-on-tick-borne-diseases-report/article

Doctors, advocates frustrated by inaction on tick-borne diseases report

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Ticks spread the widest variety of diseases that are harmful to humans, including Lyme disease. This is an image of a blacklegged (deer) tick nymph. 

Congress has had over six months to review a federal report on tick-borne diseases, which includes action items for prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and both doctors and researchers are frustrated that nothing has been done so far.

The report was written by a working group under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the growing number of tick-borne diseases in the United States. It was delivered to Congress in December.

The diseases, especially Lyme disease, are wreaking havoc on the Northeast and New York. About 400,000 new cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide annually.

About one-fourth of those cases are from New York alone.
Deadlier diseases are also spreading. Just last month, a Kingston resident died of Powassan virus.
Despite the trend in New York, lawmakers did not put funding in this year’s state budget for tick-borne illness research, either.
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The $1 million the state Senate had put back into the budget for studying Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses is no longer there.

The seemingly lack of action by state and federal lawmakers has frustrated advocates like Holly Ahern, an associate professor of microbiology at SUNY Adirondack. Ahern was also on the testing and diagnostic subcommittee of the federal tick-borne disease working group.

She was approached by the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, and Ahern and the academy’s director, Barbara Keber, wrote an op-ed column for Newsday, calling for a multi-billion dollar “national public-private partnership — an initiative that must address more than just Lyme disease and must go beyond the current low-impact strategy of telling the public to beware of ticks, wear white socks or shower after being outdoors.”

“This wasn’t just a ‘sit around and do a report’ kind of body,” Ahern said about the working group, in a phone interview Thursday. “This was, ‘Do a report and make recommendations and do what you find.’ … With that in mind, there’s accountability there. We sent the report to Congress, and Congress should take that report and should be acting on that.”

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The modern history of Lyme disease starts with an outbreak in the early 1970s in Lyme, Connecticut of a mysterious illness that afflicted chil…

It isn’t often that physicians and advocates work together when it comes to Lyme disease, Ahern said. She was a bit surprised when the New York State Academy of Family Physicians reached out to her with similar frustrations about the lack of action.

Keber, who is a physician at Glen Cove Hospital, said doctors face many challenges when it comes to diagnosing and treating tick-borne illnesses.