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Ms. SMITH. Mr. President, I thank Senator Collins for her leadership on this issue. I am very happy to have a chance to work with her on this.
Today, my colleague Senator Collins and I are introducing a bill to help fight Lyme disease, so we are introducing this bill today here in the Senate as many Minnesotans and Mainers get ready to head out to our beautiful national parks, lakes, and coastline to go fishing, hiking, and all of the things that we love, love, love to do.
In Minnesota, we have more than 10,000 lakes and a lot of space for outdoor activities, and we also have a growing tick population due to warmer summer months. With so many lakes and our excitement to get outside after a long winter, Minnesotans have become more at risk of contracting Lyme disease and other vector-borne illness.
A vector-borne illness means an illness that is carried by an insect, like ticks. Unfortunately, the number of Lyme disease cases in Minnesota is on the rise. Over the past 10 years, the number of reported cases has increased by nearly a third.
Our bill, the TICK Act, aims to reduce the number of cases by establishing an interagency office of oversight and coordination to target, prevent, and treat Lyme disease and other vector-borne illnesses. In our legislation, we made sure to enable collaboration between universities and public health agencies, and it is important we train and equip our public health first responders in how best to prevent and treat vector-borne illnesses.
The TICK Act is supported by a coalition of researchers, as Senator Collins just said, also frontline medical professionals and government officials from across the country, so I urge my colleagues to listen to the professionals on the ground fighting vector-borne diseases and quickly take up and pass this bill.
May is Lyme disease awareness month. We must be aware of and prepare for future vector-borne disease outbreaks, and this bill will be an important first step.
So I want to thank Senator Collins, my colleague on the HELP Committee, for her leadership on this important issue. I am glad we are able to work together on this bill. ______
By Mr. BLUNT (for himself and Mr. Reed):
S. 1659. A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the participation of pediatric subspecialists in the National Health Service Corps program, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
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