Thursday, June 12, 2014

House Passes Lyme Disease Awareness, Prevention Legislation

The House Wednesday passed Senate Bill 177 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) creating the Lyme Disease Task Force in the Department of Health to educate the public about Lyme disease and conduct a tick surveillance program across the Commonwealth.
The task force would develop a public education program and coordinate its efforts with the Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Education to reach outdoorsman, visitors to state parks, and students.
The task force will investigate and make recommendations to the Health Department regarding surveillance and prevention of Lyme disease as well as development of a general public and health care professional information and education program.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by ticks. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases pose a serious threat to the quality of life for Pennsylvanians, with Lyme disease cases increasing dramatically over the past several years.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, Pennsylvania ranked highest in the country in the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease. From 2002 to 2012, Pennsylvania has reported a total of 46,178 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.
While Lyme disease is most prevalent in Southeastern PA, it is found across the Commonwealth. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce risks of continued symptoms which can affect every system and organ in the body.
“Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions in the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Greenleaf. “I thank House members for passing this bill, and I look forward to seeing Senate Bill 177 signed into law so we can more closely monitor Lyme carrying ticks and help people avoid this debilitating disease.”
The bill now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote before it can be signed into law.

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