Katko’s bipartisan bill would establish tick ID pilot programs via state grants

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) is sponsoring bipartisan legislation to direct the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, acting through the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to award grants to states to implement a tick identification pilot program. 

“Year after year, our region is plagued with high rates of tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease and Powassan,” Rep. Katko said on Monday. “Families and individuals out enjoying nature during the warmer months here in Central New York need to have better access to information.” 

Rep. Katko on June 27 introduced the Tick Identification Pilot Program Act of 2019, H.R. 3568, with bill cosponsor U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to educate the public on general tick-bite prevention methods; engage the public on tick-borne illnesses; and collect data on tick populations, as well as the frequency, seasonality and geographic locations of tick encounters and/or bites, according to a summary of the bill provided by his office. 

Experts from the Syracuse, N.Y.-based State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and SUNY Upstate Medical University this week joined the congressman to announce the proposed H.R. 3568. 

“The bipartisan measure I’ve introduced will complement much of the ongoing research here in our community at SUNY Upstate and ESF,” said Rep. Katko during their July 1 press conference. “The bill establishes programming to ensure individuals who encounter ticks have rapid access to information on the tick, identify the likeliness that the tick was carrying a disease, and provide a recommendation on next steps towards seeking care.” 

If enacted, H.R. 3568 would establish a pilot grant program under the CDC allowing states to apply for grants to establish the tick identification programs, which would allow individuals to send pictures of ticks they encounter to a vector-borne biologist, who then would identify the tick and respond to the individual with related prevention and/or treatment details, among other information. 

H.R. 3568 has been referred to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.