New York State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan today announced the appointment of Senator James L. Seward to the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases (TBDs). The Task Force is charged with improving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases to better protect the health of New Yorkers and their families.
Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “It’s an honor to appoint Senator Seward to this critical Senate Task Force. As Chair of the Insurance Committee and representative of an area where tick-borne illnesses continue to spread, Senator Seward brings a valuable perspective that will help increase public awareness and prevent Lyme disease in Central New York and all throughout the Upstate region. The Task Force works tirelessly on enhancing research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment for harmful tick-borne illnesses.”
Senator James L. Seward said, “The Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases has performed groundbreaking work and helped focus the spotlight on tick-borne illnesses. We know more today than ever before about these debilitating ailments and are making strides in prevention and treatment. However, it is clear that Lyme disease and other TBDs are spreading to new areas of the state – I hear from constituents regularly who have been infected – and we need to intensify our efforts. I look forward to working closely with Task Force Chair Senator Sue Serino and Senate Health Committee Chair Senator Kemp Hannon to implement new strategies that help individuals suffering with Lyme and TBDs and snuff out new cases before they start.”
While the Northeast United States continues to be one of the hardest-hit regions for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, the Senate has been actively working to reverse this trend. This year alone, the Task Force successfully secured a record $400,000 in the state budget for research, education, and prevention efforts.
The Task Force has been working since 2013 to engage stakeholders and develop legislation to address Lyme disease. It will build upon past legislative successes, including two new laws passed last year that require the Department of Health to design a Lyme and TBD awareness program, and require the state to create age-appropriate educational materials that would be readily available to schools. Another new law passed this year will help keep kids safer through the use of insect repellent at summer camps.
At the end of August, the Task Force held a public hearing—along with the Senate Health Committee—in Albany that highlighted the need for an assertive and comprehensive statewide plan to effectively combat the spread of Lyme and TBDs. Testimony from the State Department of Health, researchers, medical professionals, insurance representatives, patients and advocates presented a thorough view of the complicated and controversial issues surrounding Lyme and TBDs.
To read the report based on findings from the public hearing and for more information about the Task Force’s ongoing efforts to combat Lyme and TBDs, please visit: https://www.nysenate.gov/committees/task-force-lyme-and-tick-borne-diseases