Teaching about Lyme disease in schools may soon become easier in New York.
The state Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would require the state Education Department to develop teaching materials and educational tools on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. The materials will be made available to schools free of charge.
The bill, which the Assembly passed late last month, will now head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for final approval.
“Because our children spend so much time exploring the outdoors, and because they may not know how to identify a tick, let alone alert their parents should they find one, they are especially vulnerable when it comes to contracting Lyme and tick-borne diseases,” said Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, Dutchess County, who sponsored the measure.
The bill would require state officials from the departments of health and environmental conservation to assist the Education Department in developing curriculum and materials for students to make them aware of the risks of ticks and how to prevent getting the illnesses.
The Hudson Valley has among the highest concentration of tick-borne illnesses in the nation, and Dutchess County has the highest rates in the state.
In fact, neighboring Columbia and Ulster counties have ranked first and second for the highest number of Lyme cases per capita in the country.
The measure passed the Senate last year, but didn’t get through the Assembly. It did so last month with the sponsorship of Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-Hudson, Columbia County.
“Raising awareness about the prevention, risks and signs of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is essential to fighting this devastating epidemic in our region and across the state,” Barrett said in a statement.