NEW YORK-Scientists from Fordham University’s Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., joined Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) at a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 10, to urge the federal government to increase funding for Lyme disease research.
Thomas J. Daniels, Ph.D., and Richard C. Falco, Ph.D., vector ecologists at the Calder Center, said that cases of Lyme disease have dramatically increased over the last three years, with New York State accounting for nearly one-third of all diagnosed cases of the tick-borne disease nationwide. Fordham University’s Lyme disease research program has been monitoring tick populations and Lyme disease throughout the Hudson Valley for many years.
“Good science takes time and money, and unfortunately, over the last five years funding for Lyme disease has decreased,” said Daniels. “In addition to developing newer technologies to diagnose and treat the disease, we need to devote more resources to controlling ticks and reducing the risk for tick bites.”
Presently, there is no reliable blood test or vaccine for the disease, and medical authorities often disagree over how to effectively treat the illness. An infected individual sometimes exhibits a bull’s-eye rash at the point of infection, but many times shows no discernible signs, instead experiencing only flu-like symptoms, such as fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches.
In a three-point plan to combat the disease, Schumer has proposed $10 million in additional funding for research and prevention, the creation of a new federal Tick-borne Disorders Advisory Committee, and a targeted education campaign to promote awareness of the disease and how to protect against infection.
“The last thing parents should have to worry about when their kids play in the backyard is that they’ll contract Lyme disease from ticks they may not even be able to see on their child’s skin,” said Schumer. “We need to start funding the research and technology needed to better diagnose Lyme disease and we need to train residents throughout the region to look for the warning signs of this horrible disease.”