MILTON – US Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand (D-NY) was in Ulster County Monday to urge the Trump Administration
to begin implementation of her bill: the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention,
Education and Research Act, that was passed into law last year as part
of the 21st Century Cures Act.
Despite being adopted and Gillibrand and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), writing a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in April urging the cooperative action the bill promotes, Gillibrand said there has been no apparent movement on behalf of the Trump Administration to enact the terms of the bill.
The bill calls for cooperation of agencies, from the federal down through the local levels, regarding more thorough study, education, better guidelines, improved testing and improved diagnostic abilities; however, Gillibrand believes that those efforts will be stifled under Trump’s proposal to cut the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by 22 percent.
“We think if you can fund this kind of coordinated effort, you would get better research being done more quickly on, both, ways to prevent Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases, and ways to treat it,” said Gillibrand. “The NIH has already done a lot of funding, that’s why President Trump’s cutting of NIH’s budget, by so much money, is so worrisome because important research projects on tick-borne diseases would not be able to be funded.”
The chairwoman of the Hudson Valley Lyme Disease Association, Jill Auerbach, agrees with Gillibrand.
Auerbach said with issues like a Lyme disease test that is accurate less than 50 percent of the time and cannot detect active bacteria within the body, most people believe there is only Lyme to worry about while ticks are also spreading Babesiosis, as well as Anaplasmosis, throughout the state.
“We need answers; and they’re there,” said Auerbach. “They just need the funding, and tick researchers have the most potential to do something about this, yet they have received the least amount of funding and they can stop this. They stand the most chance to bring about fruitful solutions to tick-borne diseases, to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. We can do it. It can be done. I know that it can be done.”
In 2015, 3,252 cases of Lyme were reported, 514 of them were from Ulster
County alone. These reported cases are estimated by the Center for Disease
Control to be one-tenth of the actual total for that year.
Experts urge those enjoying creational activities outside in the Hudson Valley this summer to wear protective clothing, use Deet spray and to always check themselves, or have someone else check, thoroughly for ticks when they go back inside.
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