There are currently at least 16 known tick-borne illnesses, with emerging diseases being discovered all the time. In the United States, the yearly cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, including spotted fever rickettsiosis, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis, have been increasing steadily for years, currently totaling tens of thousands of people diagnosed annually, with more likely undiagnosed. Globally, the US Military prioritizes tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever as an operational threat abroad.
Much remains to be determined regarding tick-borne disease pathogenesis, including host-pathogen interactions and the human immune response to these pathogens. There is a need for better disease prevention in terms of controlling the natural cycle of disease and protecting people from tick bites by various means. For people who are bitten, having methods of direct detection of tick-borne pathogens is critical in guiding treatment, and more must be learned about the cause of persistent symptoms in Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in order to establish the best treatments.
The Tick-Borne Disease Research Program (TBDRP) was established in fiscal year 2016 (FY16) to support innovative and impactful research that addresses these fundamental issues and gaps in tick-borne diseases.