Fighting Lyme Disease

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SMITHFIELD TWP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Pennsylvania tick research lab at East Stroudsburg University recently had a half-million-dollar grant renewed that provides free basic testing for all Pennsylvanian residents. 

On Monday, morning the House Health Committee held a public hearing to discuss Lyme Disease and tour the lab to see if there is more Harrisburg can do to fight ticks.  Photojournalist Tom Gregory has the story.

“Since we started this grant just five months ago we’ve tested 6,700 ticks from Pa,” noted Nicole Chinnici, Laboratory Director at ESU.

“We have the number one ranking in the country of reported cases so it’s significant and very much a health crisis for our residents’ added State Representative Rosemary Brown who hosted the meeting in Monroe County today.

Matthew Osteberg, Pike Co. Commissioner said: “Pike County has experienced a significant increase in confirmed cases of Lyme disease in recent years From 13 in 2012 to 114 in 2016”.

“While Lyme disease is the most prevalent but we’re also finding infection rates of 11% with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We’re finding 4% with Powassan virus, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis and 12.5% of our ticks are co-infected with more than one disease.” Added Chinnici.

“I was shocked by the numbers because we all have constituents who are affected by Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses” added Rep. Kathy Rapp, Chairwoman of the House Health Committee

“We want to look at the state level to see what other measures we can do to really assist the medical community.” Noted Representative Brown.

Chinnici added, “Within 36 hours of us receiving your tick we have the report back to you. We’re sending it via email and text message.”

She noted “We’re the only tick testing lab in Pa and one of the few in the United States.

“This is taxpayer money so we want to make sure and from what I’m hearing about the research lab, this is money well spent” added Rapp.

“I remember as a kid growing up here in the Poconos it was not a concern. You used to roll around in the leaves, that was fun! Now you see your child rolling in the leaves and Get out of the leaves, Get out of the leaves!” stressed Rep. Brown.

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