Sen. Schumer urges feds to help battle Lyme disease

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – One person has passed away from the Powassan virus in the Capital Region and the number of those diagnosed are continuing to grow.

Senator Chuck Schumer spoke on the urgency to fund preventative measures against Lyme and the Powassan Virus at Albany Medical Center on Monday.

The greatest dangers we face now are tick-borne illnesses,” Sen. Schumer said.

According to an announcement made by Senator Schumer and various other medical professionals at Albany Medical Center, 10 percent of Powassan cases have resulted in death, and these numbers are just continuing to rise.

“Lyme disease and Powassan, which is even more deadly than Lyme disease, is becoming too prevalent here in the Capital Region,” Sen. Schumer said.

In the past decade, there have been 16 diagnosed cases in New York of the Powassan virus. It’s transmitted by the same ticks that carry Lyme.

This year that number has already grown by three more. Last year, Sen. Schumer was able to pass a bill allowing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to allocate resources for the diagnosis, treatment, and education of these viruses. The language has not yet been totally enacted.

“Health and Human Services has to get off their backsides and get this task force going and start spending the money we have allocated,” Sen. Schumer said.

Senator Schumer also explained that the Powassan virus is not the only relatively new tick-borne illness. That’s why money to further study these viruses is so important.

“These diseases are indeed a public health urgency,” Dr. Raymond Smith said.

“The most important thing is for people to recognize that they have to do preventative measures,” Catherine Duncan, Director of Public Health for Saratoga County, said.

As the summer continues, it’s important to remember to always keep checking yourself for any ticks.

Sen. Schumer says he will continue to push for federal funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease.

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