On Thursday, Maine Senator Susan Collins introduced a bill that would devote over $100 million in federal spending to fight Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Collins said that Lyme disease has become a public health threat that calls for a comprehensive federal response. She mentioned that if the proposed bill becomes law, it would be the highest amount approved for tick-borne disease.
The senator said, “Tick-borne diseases have become a major public health concern with the incidence exploding over the past 15 years. These diseases present grave risks to our public health and serious harm to our families and communities. The sooner we acknowledge these risks and coordinate our effort to overcome them, the better for all of us.”
In 2017, Maine reported more than 1,850 cases of Lyme disease, which then dropped to 1,370 cases in 2018, according to the Maine CDC.
In the United States, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year, although the CDC estimates that the actual number would be approximately 10 times higher than that. And the reason is most people who get infected do not check with their doctor. Most cases of Lyme disease are reported in the Northeast and Midwest.
Recently, Michigan public health officials have advised people to get themselves checked for ticks that can cause Lyme disease because the black-legged ticks, or so-called deer ticks, are out during late spring to early summer.
The TICK Act would require the federal to grant $20 million every year through 2026 for collecting and analyzing data, supporting early detection and diagnosis, improving treatment, and raising awareness.
Sen. King wrote, “We need a coordinated and aggressive response from all levels of government and the private sector to make a dent in the rapid rise of this disease.” In Maine, other tick-borne diseases include anaplasmosis and babesiosis. In 2018, there were more than 470 anaplasmosis cases and 100 babesiosis cases in Maine.