Lyme Disease in Massachusetts: A Public Health Crisis

A Report Issued by the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight

LETTER FROM Chairman David P. Linsky

Residents of the Commonwealth,

            The occurrence of Lyme disease has reached near epidemic proportions in Massachusetts. Virtually every family in Massachusetts has been affected by Lyme disease in some way. Lyme disease is a public health crisis in the Commonwealth. Over 4,000 new cases of Lyme disease were reported in Massachusetts in 2009, the last year for which official totals are available. In reality, due to reporting issues, probably many times that number occurred.

            The state’s official response to Lyme disease can be characterized as haphazard at best. The state budget currently does not earmark any public funds for prevention, treatment or education. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health cannot itemize what it spends on Lyme disease. Only a few local Boards of Health have any significant plan or programs. As a result, millions of dollars are lost in employee absences due to Lyme disease. Each year, hundreds of school children miss school. Millions of dollars are spent in medical care.

            At present, no one has a clear plan or recommendation for treatment, prevention or education. Some medical professionals question whether “chronic Lyme disease” even exists. Yet, it is clear that hundreds of Massachusetts residents are afflicted by its debilitating symptoms. Few people can effectively access treatment due to a lack of providers and problems with insurance coverage.

            The Committee calls for a state chartered commission to immediately convene and bring together experts in medicine, wildlife management, public health, and insect control, as well as patients and advocates to propose solutions regarding treatment, prevention and education. The Committee calls upon health care providers and insurers to make all necessary treatment accessible and affordable and for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to look into the possibility of combining tick control efforts with state mosquito control efforts. The Committee further calls upon the legislature to appropriate whatever funds are necessary to accomplish these goals.





        Chairman David P. Linsky

        House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight

For the full report:

~ by Rob on July 1, 2011.

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