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Long Island News

Warning Of A 'Tick Time Bomb,' Schumer Calls For Lyme Vaccine Funding

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone hold vials containing ticks that harbor vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease.
COURTESY OFFICE OF SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE
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U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone hold vials containing ticks that harbor vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants the federal government to help develop a Lyme disease vaccine.

Schumer said Suffolk County is one of the hotspots of Lyme disease nationwide, and it’s facing rising tick populations. He said he is working to secure more federal dollars this summer to get the vaccine over the finish line.

"The experts are saying this summer is the tick time bomb, so this is a plan to disarm the bomb, give people in the future some peace of mind that they can go outside," Schumer said.

Schumer said the good news is that the 2019 Tick Act will provide funding to county governments for research and education campaigns.

Suffolk County surveillance data showed infection rates among adult ticks in Southold were at 58% in 2020, up 20% from 2019; 68% in Shelter Island; and 72% in Huntington during the same period.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the federal dollars will expand the county’s surveillance and research programs, as well as education campaigns.

"The education is really just as critical, because there are ways to prevent this. And if you do get a bite, how quickly you go in matters in the impact to you long-term," Bellone said.

Bellone said ticks are a serious issue, but education is the first step to prevent Lyme disease.