Panel approves Dancer bill to squash tick population

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Ticks, some no larger than a grain of sand, are thriving in the woods, fields and marshland of New Jersey. Officials estimate as many as 600,000 state residents have contracted Lyme disease from deer tick bites since 2000.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer seeks to rein in the spread with legislation, passed today by the Assembly Agriculture Committee, establishing a pi- lot program for grants to study and develop methods to control ticks. The bill (A5160) appropriates $250,000 to administer the program and award grants.

“The prevalence of ticks in the landscape has become a legitimate public health concern,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Lyme disease must be taken seriously. The Legislature should act now, before this becomes an epi- demic.”

New Jersey is one of the worst states for Lyme disease, with 37 cases per 1,000 residents and home to at least five species of dangerous ticks re- sponsible for transmitting a half-dozen life-altering and potentially fatal diseases.

A record 5,092 confirmed cases of Lyme were reported in 2017, and health officials estimate the actual number is 10 times that number.

Cases of tick-borne disease have increased by more than 200 percent in Monmouth County.