Block Island Asks State For Help Combating Lyme

Oct 21, 2013

Block Island Health Service officials say the state Department of Health has agreed to meet with them about the steep increase in Lyme disease on the island. Island officials want the state to take a more active role in fighting the disease.

Block Island Health Services officials say they’ve seen 68 cases of Lyme disease through August of this year. That’s up from 48 for all of the previous year. Health service head Barbara Baldwin says she decided it was time to ask for some help.

Female deer ticks, satiated after a blood meal, in test tubes in Yale University's tick lab.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

“We are asking the state to look at improving the resources available for public health education related to tick-borne diseases, to some assistance in getting lower cost testing, because testing for the Lyme disease is expensive, and also to encourage people to come in for early treatment.”

Baldwin says a Lyme disease test can cost up to $500 dollars for patients with no health insurance. She says that test isn’t always necessary. They go ahead and treat patients who have the typical Lyme disease “bull’s eye” rash with antibiotics anyway. But not everyone develops a rash and the only way to be certain you’ve got Lyme is a blood test.