(By: Peter Kashatus)
President Trump signed a federal appropriations bill that included legislation to fund research on preventing, diagnosing and treating tick-borne diseases on December 20. The Tick Act authorized the use of $150 million towards its research.
(Photo: Former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan)
The Tick Act has a three-pronged approach. The legislation will:
|1. Require the Department of Health and Human Services to create a National Strategy to improve research, testing and treatment efforts within various federal agencies; 2. Appropriate $50 million to establish and support Regional Centers of Excellence that will coordinate with academic and public health organizations to conduct research, and; 3. Appropriate $100 million towards Center for Disease Control (CDC) grants that will be awarded to state health departments to improve research, treatment and awareness efforts.
The legislation is named after former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, who passed away from the Powassan virus, a rare tick-borne disease, in late October. According to the New York Times, Ms. Hagan’s family believes she contracted the virus while hiking in North Carolina on Thanksgiving of 2016. A few weeks later, she was diagnosed with encephalitis. Since the Powassan virus is rarely identified, it took doctors another two months to diagnose it as the cause of her illness.
The legislation was authored by Senators Susan M. Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota. According to Senator Collins’ website, the Tick Act was cosponsored by 31 U.S. Senators upon its introduction to the Senate, and it was supported by more than 155 Lyme foundations and organizations around the United States.