Lawmakers call for national Lyme disease strategy
Excerpted from the Portland Press Herald ( Posted: 07/2122012)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A group of lawmakers is pushing for a national strategy to combat Lyme disease aimed at speeding advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the sometimes serious illness that infects tens of thousands of people every year.
The map released by the Yale School of Public Health in February indicates areas where people have the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease based on 2004-2007 data. Lawmakers are pushing for a national strategy to combat Lyme Disease.
This is a March 2002 file photo of a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I. Lawmakers are pushing for a national strategy to combat Lyme Disease. (AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho, File)
“The tick problem is growing. The Lyme disease problem is growing,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a cosponsor of the bill in the U.S. Senate. “This requires resources.”
The legislation provides for the establishment of an advisory committee made up of researchers, patient advocates and agencies, as well as the coordination of support for developing better diagnostic tests, surveillance, research and other efforts.
“The key with the bill is to get everyone in the room, get all of the best available science and then aggressively attack this hideous disease that has ruined so many lives,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the sponsor in the House who has pushed similar legislation in the past.
Reed and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who introduced the Senate bill, said they hope to pass a bill this year.
“It is essentially designed to create awareness and understanding in public health agencies about the urgent and immediate need to act more effectively against a disease that truly has reached epidemic proportions,” Blumenthal said.