Deer ticks are expected to make their presence known with frightening force this summer. Health professionals are predicting one of the worst Lyme disease outbreaks in history. And Columbia and Greene counties will be the epicenter.
Lyme disease, which can take many forms, has no cure, only treatment by drugs and prevention by measures that are not foolproof. To that end, a series of bills passed the state Senate last Thursday and cleared the state Assembly last month that call on the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and Education Department to combine resources and develop educational material for school children to teach them how to identify and avoid ticks and tick-borne illnesses.
The bills require the commissioners of the three agencies to convene and compile appropriate information for children. The leaders have tons of material available to choose from, but it is equally important that the agencies work together.
Lyme disease has exploded in the Hudson Valley in the last few years. Greene, Columbia and Dutchess counties rank among the highest in the nation in rates of Lyme disease in the last 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Greene County has the dubious distinction of recording the highest rate of Lyme disease. Columbia County ranks second.
One piece of good news — the number of Lyme cases seems to have stabilized in the Hudson Valley since 2006 — can’t distract health and environmental professionals from the mission to which they have been assigned.
There is no age limit when it comes to educating our youngest citizens about Lyme disease and how to prevent it. We have to teach