NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the last decade there have been 41,000 cases of Lyme disease in New York state.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is now calling on the federal government to fully fund research that will help combat the threat.
Sarah Jennings and her two young boys love to go for nature walks on the trails inside the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Islip on Long Island. If they want to hike through thick bushes they can’t wear shorts, even in the summer because of the threat of tick bites and possible long-term paralysis.
“We wear long pants, we put socks up over our pants, when we come back from a walk we take showers,” Jennings said.
The family’s fears are not overblown.
In 2015 alone, tick bites led to 669 cases of Lyme disease in Suffolk county. It’s why Gillibrand traveled to the refuge to call on the Trump administration to fully fund legislation that congress has already approved to boost research in the search for a vaccine.
“The research is really making progress. We want to be able to vaccinate children against tick borne disease which they’re developing. We need to be able to treat tick borne illnesses,” she said.
Environmentalists said the threat is showing up in a reluctance to let children be children.
“Parents are afraid to let their kids go outside and enjoy the natural world because they’re afraid of ticks, and so the kids are not getting all the benefits of nature,” Enrico Nardone, Seatuck Environmental Association said.
Despite the often tell-tale bulls-eye signs of a tick bite, current tests fail to detect the debilitating disease in half of all infections. Gillibrand says the fifty-fifty ration can be boosted by fully funded federal research dollars.
The White House has not responded to calls to fully fund the legislation. The measure was signed into law by President Obama.