In 2021, New Jersey reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases (3,518) in the United States and nearly 5,900 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2022, the New Jersey Department of Education noted in a recent advisory.
If not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms of Lyme disease may become more severe and life-altering. New Jersey statute (Title 18A:35-5.1) requires that Lyme disease prevention be included within the public school health curriculum.
Moreover, Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed additional legislation (P.L.2023, c.60) that requires local educational agencies to provide instruction on the prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Instruction about ticks and tick-borne illnesses should emphasize disease prevention and include topics such as the biology of various tick species, tick habitats, diseases transmitted by ticks, recommended attire and repellants to help protect an individual from ticks, how to perform tick checks, proper techniques for the removal of ticks and symptoms an individual may experience after receiving a tick bite.
To support educators, the New Jersey Department of Education and the New Jersey Department of Health have collaboratively selected materials to support educators in instruction regarding ticks and tick-borne illnesses.
Example Instructional Materials
- School-Based Tick-Borne Disease Education Toolkit, (2020) New Jersey Department of Health and Communicable Disease Service.
- Tick-Borne Diseases, (2017), New Jersey Department of Health and Communicable Disease Service.
- Fight the Bite, NJ! New Jersey Department of Health and Communicable Disease Service.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers free tick and tickborne disease resources.
- The New Jersey Department of Health Communicable Disease Service website provides information on tick-borne diseases and conditions, tick-borne diseases and conditions in New Jersey.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tickborne Diseases of the United States website has a wide array of resources to help educators better understand tick identification as well as an overview of tickborne diseases and Lyme disease.
Questions regarding tick and tick-borne illness education should be directed to the NJDOE via email.