07.06.07

With Summer Lyme Disease Season In Full Swing, Dodd And Schumer Reintroduce Comprehensive Lyme Disease Prevention And Treatment Legislation

Cases of Lyme Disease in NYC Up 35 Percent Since 2003 Senators to Push for Immediate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation Funding New Prevention, Education, and Research Efforts

As the summer Lyme disease season kicks in to full swing in New York City, today U.S. Senators Christopher J. Dodd, Charles E. Schumer, and Chuck Hagel today reintroduced their bipartisan Lyme disease prevention, education and treatment legislation.  This summer could be one of the worst seasons on record for Lyme disease in the metro area as reported Lyme disease cases are up 35 percent in New York City since 2001.

 

"Lyme disease often goes unnoticed for months, yet can be devastating for many victims and their families," said Dodd.  "The summertime brings about warm weather and school vacation, causing higher rates of infection in residents of Connecticut and the greater northeast.  Americans deserve to have the information they need to protect themselves against this dangerous disease, and I believe this legislation will provide the necessary increase in research and coordination in order to prevent more infections."

 

"We need to bring Lyme disease out of the weeds and better educate the public about how to keep themselves and their families safe. Lyme disease is a problem we've seen for decades, but we haven't done nearly enough at the federal level to tackle it," Schumer said. "Funding research for a disease that impacts millions of Americans should not be a Herculean task. The time is now to substantially increase federal funding for research, educating families, treatment, and promoting prevention."

 

Lyme disease cases are up 35 percent in New York City from 224 reported cases in 2003 up to 307 known cases in 2006.  Cases of Lyme disease spiked in 2005 jumping up to 399 reported cases in New York City. Lyme disease is the most common of all the diseases in the United States transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, with approximately 20,000 cases reported each year. It most commonly occurs in the Northeastern, MidAtlantic, and NorthCentral states. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin had the most cases.

 

Dodd and Schumer's legislation, called The Lyme and Tickborne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act, would:

 

  • Authorize $100 million over five years for increasing and coordinating federal prevention, treatment and research of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, including developing sensitive and accurate diagnostics for tickborne diseases and increasing public education for such diseases.
  • Provides $250,000 over two years to establish a Department of Health and Human Services advisory committee to facilitate communication between federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and members of the community (including patient organizations, doctors and scientists), as they attempt to raise awareness, treat, and cure tickborne diseases.  Additionally, the committee would compile local and state data to improve information about the Lyme and other tickborne diseases.

 

Lyme disease, though highly curable if it is detected in its early stages, is difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are similar to the common flu. The "bull's eye" rash that accompanies infection of the disease at the site of the tick bite often goes undetected especially on darker skin tones, and there is not a reliable blood test for the disease. In addition, there is no vaccine, and medical authorities disagree over how to treat the illness, particularly when it persists after shortterm antibiotic treatment.



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