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Upstate Medical University's tick testing program gets new funding

John Tann

Upstate Medical University’s tick testing program is getting a boost from Onondaga County.

County lawmakers approved spending $100,000 to allow the tick testing lab at Upstate, to search for ticks and tick-borne diseases in Onondaga County. Anne Messenger, Board Chair of the Central New York Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, said this is a big step, that allows residents to find out if ticks in their backyard carry dangerous diseases.

"It’s the first time a county in New York State has recognized Dr. Saravanan Thangamani’s free tick test lab is not just valid, but crucial to helping people identify potential threats to their health,” Messenger said.

She is ecstatic for support of an issue that’s still not widely understood.

"There's no silver bullet answer right now to tick-borne diseases," Messenger said. "We don't have a vaccine yet. We don't have reliable really good tests, yet. The way to avoid tick-borne disease is stay on the paths when you're at Green Lakes, don't go into grassy areas [and] use bug spray."

The tick testing program will allow Onondaga County residents to send ticks to a lab that will determine if they harbor any disease. It had been a state-wide programuntil funding ran out earlier this year. Messenger said supporters are trying to convince other local government’s to buy in to program as well.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.