According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group was established by Congress in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to provide subject matter expertise and to review federal efforts related to all tick-borne diseases, to help ensure interagency coordination and minimize overlap, and to examine research priorities.
DHHS recently announced the 14 members (see below) and will be holding it’s first meetings on Dec. 11 and 12. The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group meets at least two times a year.
The focus of this effort is the development of a report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress on the findings and any recommendations of the Working Group for the federal response to tick-borne disease prevention, treatment and research, as well as how to address gaps in these areas. The Working Group is required to submit a report every two years, starting in December 2018.
The charter for the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group was approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on August 10, 2017, marking the official establishment of the Working Group within HHS.
The Working Group was authorized by Congress for a total of six years from the date that the Act became law. The current authorization extends until December 2022.
The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group has 14 voting members—seven public members and seven federal members—who represent diverse professional roles and perspectives pertaining to tick-borne diseases:
- Wendy Adams, MBA, research grant director for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation
- Dr. John N. Aucott, M.D., assistant professor, Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center
- Dr. Richard Horowitz, M.D., member, World Health Organization Ad Hoc Committee for Health Equity
- Dr. Lise E. Nigrovic, M.D., MPH, director, Population Health Sciences and Health Services Research Center of the Institutional Centers for Clinical and Translational Research, Boston Children’s Hospital, and chair, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Collaborative Research Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics
- Patricia V. Smith, president, Lyme Disease Association
- Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner, LLM, J.D., MBA, co-founder, Lyme Disease Foundation
- Dr. 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, CDC, and associate editor, Emerging Infectious Diseases
- Commander Scott J. Cooper, MMSc, PA-C, U.S. Public Health Service, senior technical advisor and lead officer for Medicare Hospital Health and Safety Regulations, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS
- 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
- Kristen Honey, Ph.D., P.M.P., senior policy analyst, Office of Management and Budget; senior research scholar, Stanford University and member, Stanford University Lyme Disease Working Group
- Capt. Estella Jones, D.V.M., director, Medical Countermeasure Regulatory Science and Senior Regulatory Veterinarian, Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, FDA
- Allen Richards, Ph.D., director, Rickettsial Diseases Research Program, Naval Medical Research Center, U.S. Department of Defense
- Dr. Vanila M. Singh, M.D., M.A.C.M., chief medical officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS
Tick-borne diseases are a serious public health problem. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but there are at least 20 different infections that are transmitted by ticks in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year. The number of new cases has been increasing in recent years, and the areas where ticks are found are expanding, which puts more people in more states at potential risk.
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