New York state is considering making Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses an occupational disease for workers’ compensation purposes.
If adopted, SB S3117 would ensure workers’ compensation coverage for disability caused by or connected to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases while performing work involving outdoor activity or the treatment of animals.
A similar bill was considered in 2022 but failed to gain traction, according to Business Insurance.
The bill’s sponsors said they want Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses to fall under workers’ compensation because:
- Lyme disease is a lifelong illness that’s exacerbated unless treated
- these diseases are generally hard to diagnose since symptoms mimic those of other common illnesses and can lead to misdiagnoses, and
- chronic Lyme disease is still not fully recognized by many infectious disease doctors.
Further, New York “remains one of the states with the highest incidence of Lyme disease” and the state has begun “to experience longer and more severe tick seasons, with the majority of tick-to-human bites occurring in the warmer months when ticks are most active and when more people are outdoors for recreation or work.”
SB S3117 has been referred to a labor committee for further consideration.