IU’s environmental expert addresses plan to fight Lyme disease, other tick-borne illnesses

On May 23, a bill to address increased incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in the United States was introduced in the US Senate. The bipartisan legislation, named the Ticks: Identify, Control, and Knockout (TICK) Act, would boost federal funding to prevent, diagnose, and treat tick-borne diseases to $100 million spread across universities, government agencies, and public health organizations.

Ellen Ketterson, director of Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute, a part of IU's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, is available to offer perspective on the need to support the surveillance, prevention, and treatment of vector-borne diseases, such as those carried by ticks and mosquitoes.

Across the Midwest and the nation, Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are on the rise, threatening the health and well-being of millions of Americans. This trend is projected to continue as human activity and changes in climate and temperature increase the risk of tick exposure. To address this threat, ERI launched multiple projects in 2018 to monitor and guard against disease-carrying organisms, such as ticks and mosquitoes, in Indiana. These efforts are a major step toward understanding the risks posed by tick-borne diseases in a changing environment. Coordinated support at the federal level, however, could do for the country what ERI has started to do for the Hoosier state. Nothing short of a nation-wide effort to understand, prevent, and treat tick-borne diseases is needed to address this growing public health risk."

Ellen Ketterson

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