Officials taking action to fight uptick in ticks and Lyme disease in New Jersey

WEST MILFORD, New Jersey (WABC) -- With warm weather arriving and people spending more time outside, health officials are warning about the risk of ticks and Lyme disease.

On Thursday, a group of mothers shared their stories of monthslong and yearslong battles against Lyme disease in their families.

The disease cost Gloria Kim's son nearly everything he loved to do.

"My unstoppable wondrous Brandon who used to play soccer on two teams, won a writing scholarship at 8, played four instruments withy joy, I watched Brandon have temporary blindness, tunnel vision, vertigo, brain fog, body tremors," Kim said.

They and others joined Congressman Josh Gottheimer on the trails at the West Milford Environmental Center to strongly encourage families to take the threat of tick-borne illnesses and prevention seriously.

"You don't realize just how bad it is and how devastating it can be," Gottheimer said.



New Jersey has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country.
Gottheimer, along with Congressman Chris Smith, have introduced legislation to pour tons of federal resources into helping families facing Lyme crises.

"It's my hope that with New Jersey's leadership and innovation in the medical, pharmaceutical and life-science industries, we can play a key role in developing these new treatments and maybe even a cure," Gottheimer said

"And so many people don't know they have Lyme and they're ill with other things so that's a big factor," one of the mothers explained.

The families who spoke out have had to become activists and experts on the issue. They say prevention and protecting yourself from tick bites can save you from the suffering they've been forced to endure.

The bills mean more money, more attention and better treatment options and research for tick-borne illnesses. The congressman hopes to have them passed by the fall.

Read more on the proposed bills:

The Children Inflicted by Lyme Disabilities Act - a bipartisan bill to help ensure children who suffer from Lyme disease get the care and attention they need. The bill (H.R.3636) will amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that the phrase "child with a disability" includes a child who needs special education and related services due to a Lyme disease health impairment.

Bipartisan legislation for competitions to find Lyme disease treatments - This bipartisan bill (H.R. 3637) will authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to launch prize competitions to drive innovation and accelerate the discovery of new methods to counter and treat Lyme disease.

The Stamp Out Lyme Disease Act - a bipartisan bill (H.R. 3491) to create a brand new postage stamp to supplement congressionally-appropriated research funding for Lyme and tick-borne disease treatments at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Qualified families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under 6 and up to $250 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 17.



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