WASHINGTON, D.C. (WENY) – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for increased federal funding for Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illness research.

New York State, as well as the rest of the nation, has seen a skyrocketing number of ticks, leading to increased cases of Lyme and other diseases. New York has reported more than 92,000 cases of Lyme over the last two decades.

Experts believe climate change is a contributing factor in these increases; they say with shorter and warmer winters, fewer ticks are dying off, increasing the chances of them spreading diseases.

Despite these numbers, Sen. Gillibrand says federal investment in research and prevention for tick-borne illnesses remains low, with just $191 million spent per case of Lyme disease.

“New York is a hotspot for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, and our communities have felt the impact of these diseases for years,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Vector-borne diseases are a growing public health crisis, and it’s critical we deliver funding for research, surveillance, prevention, and outbreak response to help us combat the often-devastating and life-altering impacts of these illnesses.”

Additionally, advocates say there needs to be more education into Lyme disease, diagnosing the condition and treating it.

“When I became severely ill in 2010, it took ten doctors and multiple false-negative test results before being diagnosed with Lyme disease and the co-infection babesia,” said New York advocate and Project Lyme Executive Committee Chairman David Roth. “There are enormous gaps in our understanding of the pathology of these diseases and their treatment, and there is a tremendous need for better diagnostic tests.”

Senator Gillibrand is requesting $12 million in appropriations funding for the Department of Defense’s Tick-Borne Disease Research Program to support research addressing “fundamental issues and knowledge gaps” related to tick-borne illnesses. Additional funding would implement the Kay Hagan Tick Act to help states build public health infrastructure for Lyme and other diseases, which would “support early detection and diagnosis, improve treatment, and raise awareness and fund the Centers of Excellence for Lyme and tick-borne disease leading the scientific response against tick-borne diseases”.

Senator Gillibrand is also calling to secure funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand underfunded tick-borne illness programs.