Valesky Attends Senate-Sponsored Public Hearing on Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases

David J. Valesky

State Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) attended a public hearing August 29 on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in Albany. The Senate Task Force on Lyme and TBDs and the Senate Standing Committee on Health jointly hosted the hearing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. every year. More than 71,000 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in New York since 2000, according to the CDC. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 3,736 new cases were reported in the state. Early diagnosis is critical for the most successful treatment of Lyme disease, but doctors often don’t test for it, especially in the absence of the Erythema migrans rash, commonly known as the bull’s eye.

“This public hearing made it clear the devastating effects Lyme and other tick-borne diseases have on individual patients, who often suffer for years before being diagnosed. Continued and expanded community health efforts to educate people about how to protect themselves from tick bites are needed, as well as outreach efforts to physicians to raise awareness and encourage testing when symptoms are present,” Valesky said.

The deer overpopulation in parts of Syracuse and Onondaga County increases the risk for Lyme and other TBD transmissions, as well as for traffic accidents and destruction of gardens. Although deer do not spread Lyme disease, they are the most numerous reproductive hosts for ticks that carry the disease. A reproductive host allows the tick to mature to an adult stage at which point it may lay eggs. Valesky sponsored a bill that would direct the Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a study to recommend the best deer management practices in urban and suburban areas that would mitigate these problems. It has passed both the Senate and Assembly and awaits delivery to Gov. Cuomo for his signature.

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