Press Release: January 10, 2020
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to urge quick implementation of the Kay Hagan Tick Act that they authored. Their bipartisan bill, which was signed into law on December 21, 2019, will improve research, prevention, diagnostics, and treatment for tick-borne diseases.
“The new law is named after the late Senator Kay Hagan, who tragically died from Powassan virus, a tick-borne disease this past October. The law provides a unified approach with leadership at the federal level and resources at the local level to combat the escalating burden of tick and vector-borne diseases and disorders in the United States,” wrote the Senators. “As authors of this bipartisan legislation, we request that you prioritize its implementation to better protect Americans from the significant and growing threat of tick-borne diseases.”
The incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases has increased significantly since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting began in 1991. From 2004 to 2018, reported cases of tick-borne diseases more than doubled from 22,527 to 47,743 cases. Furthermore, CDC tracking of Nationally Notifiable Infectious Diseases shows that Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease and the most common vector-borne disease.
Maine alone reported more than 1,400 confirmed cases in 2018, the highest incidence of Lyme disease in the nation. Minnesota is also vulnerable with 950 confirmed cases of Lyme diseases in 2018. These data, however, capture only about one-tenth of the estimated number of disease cases, and a full understanding of the economic and societal costs remains unknown. Studies so far indicate that Lyme disease alone costs approximately $1.3 billion each year in direct medical costs, and overall costs, including indirect costs, average $75 billion.
In the letter, the Senators also requested additional information about the steps HHS is taking to gather data on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
Click HERE to read the letter.
Click HERE to read GLA study that addresses the public risk of post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD), that two million people could have PTLD by 2020, cited in the Senators letter.