Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein, with Joe Robach support, announced the creation of the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases to examine state and federal efforts to combat the continued spread of these diseases and make recommendations for a plan to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The panel will work on recommendations for a state action plan to address Lyme and other tick-borne diseases modeled after the “2001 West Nile Virus Response Plan.” That plan was developed by the New York State Department of Health in response to the West Nile Virus outbreak in 1999, and New York needs a comparable plan to move the state forward in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated that about 300,000 individuals are diagnosed with Lyme each year nationally. Lyme is the most commonly reported of all tick-borne illness in the United States. There are 13 states that account for almost all of those cases; many of the cases are in New York.

There are also fears that Lyme disease may, in fact, have broader consequences than the symptoms we generally associate with the illness. According to recent news analysis of state Health Department records, over the past 13 years, Lyme disease was listed as the cause of deaths for nine New Yorkers, outside of New York City. Five of the victims lived in the mid-Hudson Valley. Given the number of cases and severe effects that Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can cause, Joe Robach and the Senate believe New York must take action.

For more information on this or any other Senate initiative, contact the office of Joe Robach.