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.
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. 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.