– On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) presented Dr. Marcia Welsh, president of East Stroudsburg University, and Nicole Chinnichi, Laboratory Director of the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab, with a state grant for $500,000 for ESU’s Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab, that will provide FREE tick testing to all Pennsylvania residents.
The tests will include Lyme disease and three additional tests based on the species of tick submitted. Results of the tests will be provided to residents and will include important information about risk/exposure to tick-borne diseases. Funding will also support the development of a data analytic website that will provide infection rates across the Commonwealth, areas with high tick density, and demographics associated with the tick bite. This data will establish a baseline for the prevalence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in Pennsylvania.
“It was an honor to secure and initiate this funding to East Stroudsburg University for this important and necessary research lab as I continue to focus on Lyme disease and tick-borne illness,” said Brown. “Since 2011, Pennsylvania has ranked No. 1 in reported cases of Lyme disease nationwide. Too many people in our district, and people whom I run into, have been suffering from debilitating Lyme disease and tick-related illnesses. The goal is to get ahead of the disease, identify it in the tick, and prevent disease progression and protect an individual’s health.”
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by ticks and caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases such as Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and others pose a serious threat to the quality of life of many Pennsylvanians, with the frequency of diagnosed and reported Lyme disease cases increasing dramatically over the past several years.
In the last six years, Pennsylvania ranked highest in the country in the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease. In 2016, Pennsylvania reported 12,200 cases of Lyme disease and about 40 percent of the nation’s cases in Pennsylvania alone. This reflects another increase from the 10,817 new cases reported in 2015. Further, a 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection study confirmed a high risk of Lyme disease in every county of the Commonwealth verifying that every Pennsylvanian, from Philadelphia to Erie, must take precautions to prevent the spread of Lyme disease.
“This announcement marks a game-changing moment for our university and especially for the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab,” Welsh stated. “This funding will support the development of the [ESU-PA Tick Research] lab, creation of a data analytic website and free tick testing to Pennsylvania residents. It is important to know that all tick testing will be completed by our well-trained students and staff in the ESU Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab [now named ESU-PA Tick Research Lab] located at the ESU Innovation Center.”
Brown has continued to advocate for those who have been affected by Lyme disease and has been working with state departments to develop polices and write legislation which can help combat this disease as it has been a major health concern here in Pennsylvania.
“The Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab will now be the ESU-PA Tick Research Lab thanks to the efforts of Rep. Rosemary Brown,” Chinnichi added. “It is an initiative that we are extremely excited about. Human testing for Lyme disease is very difficult due to the Lyme bacteria hiding from our immune system. When you have the tick and analyze what it is carrying, you can determine your risk and exposure to these diseases, which is exactly what we will be using with the state funding.”
For more information about Lyme disease, or any state-related issue, contact Brown’s district office in East Stroudsburg located at 143 Seven Bridge Road, by calling 570-420-8301. Information can also be found on online at RepBrown.com or Facebook.com/RepRosemaryBrown.
Rep. Rosemary Brown presented Dr. Marcia Welsh, president of East Stroudsburg University, and Nicole Chinnichi, Laboratory Director of the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab, with a state grant for $500,000 for the development of ESU’s new tick research lab for tick research and surveillance.
Representative Rosemary M. Brown
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abby Krueger