October 29, 2019

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Tick-Borne Diseases in New Hampshire and Across the Country

WASHINGTON –  Senator Maggie Hassan joined this week in cosponsoring the bipartisan Ticks: Identify, Control, and Knockout (TICK) Act, to help improve research, prevention, diagnostics, and treatment for tick-borne diseases. New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country, with roughly sixty percent of adult blacklegged ticks in New Hampshire carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

“Summertime in New Hampshire is meant to be enjoyed, but a tick bite you might not even notice can lead to contracting Lyme disease and suffering serious health consequences,” Senator Hassan said. “I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will help advance efforts at all levels of government to protect Granite Staters from Lyme disease and treat those who contract it.”

Over the past decade, cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases have risen exponentially, from approximately 30,000 in 2003 to an estimated 450,000 last year. In 2017, there were 1,381 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in New Hampshire according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the physical and emotional toll that Lyme disease takes, it is also expensive: Medical costs of Lyme disease are estimated at $1.3 billion per year. When accounting for indirect medical costs, including loss of work, the annual costs balloon to $75 billion per year.

Using a three-pronged approach, the TICK Act would:


1.       Establish an Office of Oversight and Coordination for Vector-Borne Disease at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The office would develop a national strategy to prevent and treat Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, expand research, and improve testing, treatment affordability, and public awareness.  The Office would also coordinate with other federal departments to address these diseases, including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Interior, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.


2.       Reauthorize Regional Centers of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease for five years at $10 million per year. Funding for these centers, which was allotted in 2017, expires in 2021.  These Centers have led the scientific response against tick-borne diseases, which now make up 75 percent of vector-borne diseases in the U.S.  There are five centers located at universities in New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin. 


3.       Authorize CDC Grants at $20 million per year that would be awarded to State Health Departments to improve data collection and analysis, support early detection and diagnosis, improve treatment, and raise awareness. These awards would help states build a public health infrastructure for Lyme and other vector-borne diseases and amplify their initiatives through public-private partnerships.