An Oneonta-area New York State Senator is joining the State Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases.  James Seward of Otsego County has been appointed to the panel to look into improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases.

Seward says the panel has made progress in prevention and treatment but thediseases are spreading to new areas of New York State.

The Task Force has been working since 2013 to develop legislation to address Lyme Disease.  This year, the panel secured a record $400,000 in the state budget for research, education and prevention programs.

Last year legislation was passed to require the Department of Health to design a tick-borne disease awareness program and require educational programs to schools.  Another new law that was passed this year calls for use of insect repellant at summer camps.

Officials say the Northeast United States continues to be one of the hardest-hit areas for tick-borne diseases.