Federal Aid Proposed in Fight Against Lyme Disease
On June 10, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer held a press conference on the trails at the West Milford Environmental Center to strongly encourage families to take the threat of tick-borne illnesses and prevention seriously. He and Congressman Chris Smith have introduced legislation to secure federal resources to help families facing Lyme crises.
Trail Conference Director of Donor Advising Don Weise opened the conference, sharing that that the legislation has the potential to help deter fears that may prevent many from experiencing the benefits of the outdoors.
“The pandemic has proven that people need access to the outdoors to be mentally and physically healthy,” Weise said. “We must be vigilant and check for ticks, but we can’t let Lyme disease keep us locked indoors. [See sidebar for tips on tick-bite prevention.] This legislation gives me hope that we’ll find a cure and finally stamp out Lyme disease, once and for all.”
The event also featured a group of mothers who shared their stories of months-long and years-long battles against Lyme disease in their families.
"It’s my goal that families from across New Jersey and our entire region will come to enjoy the outdoors here in the Garden State this summer—whether it’s here at the West Milford Wetlands Environmental Center, at the beautiful, or on New Jersey’s 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which run right through this Congressional District,” Gottheimer said. “I want families to protect themselves from ticks and from the Lyme disease they may carry, all while enjoying the natural beauty we have to offer. And I want our residents and families who’ve been affected by Lyme disease to know I stand with them—to push federal bipartisan action forward to boost investment in finding new treatments, and to make sure any child with any impairment or disability from this disease can get the educational services and care they need."
New Jersey has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. The bills mean more money, more attention, and better treatment options and research for tick-borne illnesses. Gottheimer hopes to have them passed by the fall.
The Children Inflicted by Lyme Disabilities Act: A bipartisan bill to help ensure children who suffer from Lyme disease get the care and attention they need. The bill (H.R.3636) will amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that the phrase "child with a disability" includes a child who needs special education and related services due to a Lyme disease health impairment.
Bipartisan legislation for competitions to find Lyme disease treatments: This bipartisan bill (H.R. 3637) will authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to launch prize competitions to drive innovation and accelerate the discovery of new methods to counter and treat Lyme disease.
The Stamp Out Lyme Disease Act: A bipartisan bill (H.R. 3491) to create a brand new postage stamp to supplement congressionally appropriated research funding for Lyme and tick-borne disease treatments at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Preventing Tick Bites
Compiled by Howie Liebmann, Northwest New Jersey Trail Chair
- Stay in the center of the trail. Avoid bushwacking (going off-trail).
- Avoid trails with high grass or encroaching brush.
- Avoid leaf piles, leaf mulch, and sitting on the ground with a heavy leaf cover.
- Wear light-colored clothing to better spot ticks.
- Tuck pants legs into your socks to prevent ticks from attaching to your body.
- Spray insect repellant with 25-35% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Insect repellants containing Picarian (20%) or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30%) are acceptable alternatives.
- Spray Permethrin on clothing. Do not spray on exposed skin.
- Permethrin is a highly effective repellent and insecticide. Pay particular attention to treating hiking boots, socks, and pants. Clothing treated with Permethrin may be machine washed, but should not be machine dried. Respray clothing every 6 weeks. Use a small plastic salon sprayer with an adjustable nozzle (fine spray) for more even coverage.
- Pick off all ticks when returning from the woods.
- Shower immediately upon returning home. Check your entire body including armpits, groin, and scalp for attached ticks.
- Wash all clothing in hot water. Machine dry on high heat* (unless treated with Permethrin) to kill all remaining ticks.
*Note: While machine drying at high heat will kill ticks, the heat and friction can reduce the effectiveness of Permethrin on treated clothes. Permethrin has a 5-year shelf life.