Binghamton’s Lyme disease conference

May 16, 2019

Researchers, healthcare providers, and those who have contracted Lyme disease—or know someone who has—attended the 2019 Lyme Disease Conference held at Binghamton University’s Innovative Technologies Complex on May 4.

Binghamton University’s Tick-borne Disease Research Center and Southern Tier Lyme Support, Inc. co-hosted the conference, which drew over 200 registrants to hear from speakers on topics ranging from advocacy for research funding to how the disease is transmitted to Lyme disease in animals.

Speaking about why there is a need for research funding, Jill Auerbach, with the Hudson Valley Lyme Disease Association, said that the cost burden of Lyme disease continues to grow. From 1900 to 2017, the cost burden of the disease in the United States amounted to more than $72.4 billion. In 2017 alone, the cost burden of the disease in the United States was nearly $5 billion. New York state’s portion of that burden was over $1 billion in 2017, though Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures are lower because the CDC can only use actual surveillance case numbers.

Brian Leydet, assistant professor of environmental and forest biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has been studying Lyme disease for 14 years, and calls it a journey. “Lyme spirochete bacteria is really pretty under a microscope,” he said, “but not when it’s inside you.”

He and his research team are looking at what he described as a crazy idea—to actually modify the landscape to modify animal communities—as well as testing of natural repellants.

Bettina Wagner, a veterinarian and professor and chair of the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, addressed the issue of Lyme disease in animals.

Animals can be infected with the bacteria and develop Lyme disease, she said, but they cannot pass it along to humans. “There is no continuation of the life cycle if the animal gets infected—with one exception,” she said. “If you pull an infected tick out of a dog or other animal, it can still climb on you or another human, so make sure you kill the tick.”

Binghamton University has the full article