Because of the state's climate and woodlands, New Jersey is especially conducive to dangerous disease-carrying ticks.

New Jersey has the third most tick-borne disease cases in the country. The state saw the most reported cases of Lyme disease in 2017 in nearly 20 years. Yet no statewide or countywide measures have been taken to control the tick population. Two state lawmakers want to change that.

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-Monmouth, and Assemblywoman Joanne Downey, D-Monmouth, have introduced legislation that would authorize the state and county mosquito commissions to create and implement measures to control the tick population.

Houghtaling said the legislation would require that the counties include tick control along with their anti-mosquito efforts. He says Monmouth County has a good surveillance program but there is nothing to control the population of ticks in the entire state.

"We have such a terrible problem and we have no solution and we have a new strain of ticks coming into our state with that East Asian tick, so we need to be a little proactive because ticks spread disease," said Houghtaling.

The East Asian tick was recently spotted in Hunterdon County. It is known to spread severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome — a potentially life-threatening disease.

Some of those diseases that ticks transmit to humans include Lyme disease, Powassan disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and others. Those diseases can also spread to household pets.

"So we really want to make awareness for the ticks that we have and try to start coming up with a solution about what are we going to do to try to control this population," said Houghtaling.

He said ticks are so small but they pose such a health risk to our communities. Many times ticks just lie and wait for someone to walk by. They they climb on and latch on. You may not even detect the tick. Then the next thing you know, you have a disease.

Houghtaling is not sure what would actually work to stop the tick population in the state. That would be up to the different mosquito commissions. It's just a matter of coming up with a program, perhaps even start from scratch, figuring out where some of these really bad tick-ridden areas are in the in state.

The bill would have these mosquito control commissions using their existing revenue-raising powers to finance any tick control measures they deem appropriate.

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