In DepthInfectious Diseases

Lyme disease research gets a needed boost

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Science  19 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6437, pp. 221
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6437.221

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Months after a U.S. Congress–mandated advisory group sounded the alarm about tickborne illnesses and urged more federal action and money, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is readying its first strategic plan for these diseases. Last week it also, serendipitously, issued a rare solicitation for prevention proposals in tickborne diseases. The new pot of money for those efforts, $6 million in 2020, represents a significant boost to the field; NIH spent $23 million on Lyme in 2018, by far the most common tickborne illness, with $56 million devoted to tickborne diseases overall. Cases of Lyme disease have roughly tripled since the 1990s, to more than 300,000, as ticks carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi have spread. Scientists still hope for more money for diagnostics and treatment research.