Massachusetts Making Historical Step for Lyme Disease, Help Them & All of US

News Release

Feb. 6, 2014

Governor’s Community Innovation Challenge Awards $111K for State’s First ‘Tick-Borne Disease Network’
Funds support tick testing by UMass Amherst laboratory free to residents of 32 towns

AMHERST, Mass. ­- Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor announced today that the Bedford, Mass. Board of Health, on behalf of 31 other partner towns, will receive $111,000 from the governor’s Community Innovation Challenge Grant program to form the state’s first Tick-Borne Disease Network (TBDN) for surveillance of ticks and tick-borne diseases. The announcement was at the Massachusetts State House.

Towns will use the Laboratory of Medical Zoology (LMZ) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which will receive, identify, test and report the occurrence of ticks and associated diseases to residents, their boards of health and the state Department of Public Health. Medical zoologist Stephen Rich, LMZ director, helped to craft the proposal for Bedford. He says the idea started as a network of public health departments in five towns in Middlesex County, which grew when 10 Franklin county towns asked to join, followed by all 15 towns of Barnstable County on Cape Cod, plus Nantucket.

“It’s been exciting to be a part of truly collaborative effort between town health officials and the University. And because of this effort, more than 30 towns in four counties are able to provide free tick testing to their residents over the coming year,” he notes. “We hope and expect this will be such a success that it will continue in future years and more of the 351 towns and municipalities in Massachusetts will participate.”

LMZ will test 100 ticks from each participating town, 50 each in the spring season and 50 in the fall, on contract for the new tick network for $30 each, a discount from the $140 currently charged to the public to test for three important tick pathogens.  The reduction is possible because with higher volumes and fixed funding the LMZ can meet costs and provide high quality service, Rich says.

The program will provide estimates of pathogen prevalence and allow each town to see rates of tick biting activity in real time, the LMZ director says. Each tick will be tested for Borrelia burgdorferi, associated with Lyme disease, as well asAnaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti, the principal emerging and potentially lethal pathogens that cause Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis, respectively. Distribution of these pathogens in ticks is poorly understood and likely varies substantially across the state, he adds.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance statistics show that in Massachusetts, confirmed cases of Lyme disease have increased from 23.9 cases per 100,000/population in 2004 to 60.9/100,000 in 2008 and the disease is now considered endemic in all of Massachusetts, public health officials note.

At present the LMZ at UMass Amherst collects thousands of ticks, dead or alive, from across the country to help map the distribution of different types and categorize the many disease-causing pathogens they carry. The service helps families and their physicians as well as epidemiologists, says Rich, and is a good example of how the university’s flagship campus can partner with communities to meet concerns about a very real threat to public health.

Established in 2006, the LMZ tested about 2,000 ticks from 40 states last year, Rich says. Building its database continually expands its usefulness to epidemiologists who track the growing number of disease causing pathogens carried by these ticks.

Rich explains, “We’re not practicing medicine or diagnosing disease, but we can help provide clues for patients and physicians. It’s like radon testing. If you have your house tested for radon and it’s positive, you don’t go to your oncologist and tell him or her that you have cancer. But still, your exposure level is important information for both you and the doctor. It’s the same thing with ticks. If you know the tick that bit you tested positive for a pathogen that causes a certain disease, you can take that information to your doctor. It can help to narrow down your diagnosis more quickly.”

Further, he adds, “These are just the benefits realized by individuals who have their ticks tested. The real game changer is the extraordinary epidemiological opportunity to quantify who’s being bitten, when these bites occur, and what the ticks may be transmitting.”

In addition to the Nantucket Health Department, Franklin County participating public health departments are in Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe and Shelburne. In Middlesex County participating departments are in Acton, Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lincoln and Winchester. In Barnstable County they are Barnstable, Brewster, Bourne, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Provincetown, Sandwich, Truro, Wellfleet and Yarmouth.

More: www.tickdiseases.org/

www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/umass-amherst-research-lab-provides

www.mass.gov/anf/budget-taxes-and-procurement/working-for-you/community-innovation-challenge-grant/fy14-cic-projects.html

Contact:         Janet Lathrop, 413/545-0444jlathrop@admin.umass.edu
                        Stephen Rich, 413/545-5225smrich@umass.edu 

Dr. Kerry Clark to be on Lyme Light Radio 11/21

Lyme Light Radio with Katina welcomes Dr. Kerry Clark, who will be with us this Wednesday, 11/21, 4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT. With 20 years of tick research in the south, Dr. Clark shares stunning revelations that Lyme disease is more rampant in the southern United States than the north! Wake up America, ISDA, CDC and everyone! Join us to learn more about his fascinating and important work!

Dr. Kerry Clark

Dr. Kerry Clark is the Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. Dr. Clark came to the University of North Florida with a Masters in Public Health Epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of South Carolina, where he conducted the first ecologic study of the Lyme disease bacteria in that state. He has been studying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases for the past 20 years. In addition to his research, he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in epidemiology and environmental health in the Department of Public Health at UNF.

Dr. Clark is committed to studying the ecology and epidemiology of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in the southern U.S. He was the first to report finding Lyme disease spirochetes in animals and ticks in South Carolina, and in wild reptiles in South Carolina and Florida. He has documented the presence of Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia, and other tick-borne pathogens in wild animals, ticks, and humans in Florida and other southern states. Recently, he discovered two previously unrecognized Lyme Borrelia species in human patients in Florida, Georgia, and other states across the U.S.

Lyme Light Radio can be listened to live on WBLQ 1230AM in Southern New England or streamed online at http://www.TheDrPatShow.com and http://www.LymeLightRadio.com. We are also archived on The Dr. Pat Show website and can be found in podcast form for FREE on itunes!

REMINDER! 5th caller will receive an autographed copy of “Out of the Woods,Healing Lyme Disease, Body, Mind & Spirit”. 800 930 2158

Follow Fabulous John Donnally as he Cycles Across USA on Behalf of Lyme Disease

Hi Everyone:
 In TBDA’s opinion these video clips are pretty amazing and heartfelt.
We have received tremendous support from the community at large and the Media.
As you can see, Team TBDA is doing very well!
A formal John Donnally update letter will be sent out soon, hard to write and bike at the same time.
Please feel free to “share” on Social Media.
If you have any questions, ideas, etc. please contact me.
Thank you again for all of your support.
Regards,
Jodi 
JODI NASS
Executive Director
Tick-Borne Disease Alliance
914-391-3737
Day 1 – “Launch Day”

 
Day 2 “Andy Abraham Williams Interview”
 
Day 3 “David Roth Interview”
 
**Day 4 – no video went out that day
 
Day 5 “Meet the Team”
 
Day 6 “Standford University and Bay Area Lyme”
 
Day 7 “John Meets with Local Riders”
 
Day 8 “Yosemite National Park”
 
Day 9 “Pediatric Lyme”
 
Day 10 “John’s personal piece”