The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the appointment of 14 members to the new Tick-Borne Disease Working Group.
The Working Group will hold its inaugural public meetings on Dec. 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
The Working Group was established by the 21st Century Cures Act to improve federal coordination of efforts related to tick-borne diseases. Members will review all HHS efforts related to tick-borne diseases to provide expertise and help ensure interagency coordination and minimize overlap, examine research priorities and identify unmet needs. The Working Group expects to issue its first report to the HHS Secretary and Congress by December 2018.
“We are pleased that the members of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group are now ready to focus on this important public health issue that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans each year,” said Don Wright, MD, MPH, acting assistant secretary for health. “We are impressed by the combined expertise and experience of the Working Group and are committed to doing everything we can to support its success.”
The Working Group’s members represent a diverse set of stakeholders, including physicians and other medical providers with experience in diagnosing and treating tick-borne diseases; scientists or researchers with expertise in this field; patients and family members; patient advocates; and federal experts who work in related areas.
Members of the public may attend the meeting in person or via webcast. For more information, visit the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group webpage.
The Working Group members are:
Wendy Adams, M.B.A.
Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation
John N. Aucott, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center
Richard Horowitz, M.D.
Member, World Health Organization’s Ad Hoc Committee for Health Equity
Lise E. Nigrovic, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Population Health Sciences and Health Services Research Center of the Institutional Centers for Clinical and Translational Research, Boston Children’s Hospital; Chair, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Collaborative Research Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics
Patricia V. Smith
President, Lyme Disease Association
Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner, L.L.M., J.D., M.B.A.
Co-founder, Lyme Disease Foundation
Gary Wormser, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Pharmacology, and Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, New York Medical College
Charles Benjamin Beard, Ph.D.
Acting Deputy Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Associate Editor, Emerging Infectious Diseases
Commander Scott J. Cooper, MMSc, PA-C, United States Public Health Service
Senior Technical Advisor and Lead Officer for Medicare Hospital Health and Safety Regulations, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dennis M. Dixon, Ph.D.
Chief, Bacteriology and Mycology Branch, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Kristen Honey, Ph.D., P.M.P.
Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President; Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University; Member, Stanford University Lyme Disease Working Group
Captain Estella Jones, D.V.M.
Director, Medical Countermeasure Regulatory Science and Senior Regulatory Veterinarian, Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Allen Richards, Ph.D.
Director, Rickettsial Diseases Research Program, Naval Medical Research Center, U.S. Department of Defense
Vanila M. Singh, M.D., M.A.C.M.
Chief Medical Officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Lyme disease accounts for the majority of tick-borne disease in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year—but only about 30,000 of those cases are reported to local and state health departments and the CDC. While most cases of Lyme disease are treated successfully with short courses of antibiotics, some individuals who contract this illness may develop debilitating health problems.
While Lyme disease is the most prevalent of the tick-borne diseases in the United States, it is not alone. Different tick species across the country can spread other pathogens to humans, causing a range of illnesses. Bacterial diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, infections caused by Powassan and Bourbon viruses, and the parasitic disease babesiosis all occur in the United States. There are additional pathogens transmitted by ticks outside of the United States and new infectious agents continue to be identified.