Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Senate Hearing: 200 Pennsylvanians Diagnosed With Lyme Disease Every Day

The Senate Aging and Youth and Health and Human Services Committees Tuesday held a joint hearing on the Lyme Disease Task Force Report.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports there have been 76,409 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania between 2000 and 2015, but they believe there were an estimated 764,090 true cases of the disease in the state.
There are an estimated 200 new confirmed cases every day in the Commonwealth, according to remarks made at the hearing.
Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Mercer), Majority Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, said, “It is troubling that Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease patients.  [The Lyme disease outbreak] is a crisis, not only in my district, but across the state.”
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Majority Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said it was indefensible to offer excuses for the lack of solutions for the widespread threat posed by Lyme disease.
Dr. John Goldman, UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg & Lyme Disease Task Force Representative, said the Task Force agreed on four major issues: the increase of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania, the need for greater recognition of Lyme disease, the limitations of clinical testing of Lyme disease and the potential of co-infection due to Lyme disease being a tick-borne illness.
There was disagreement within the Task Force on the reliability of Lyme disease testing, long-term antibiotic use for treatment and the frequency of co-infections.
Dr. Goldman said the immediate treatment of Lyme disease is the best solution due to the unreliability of clinical tests.
Julia Wagner, PA Lyme Resource Network, said children and those under 20 are at the highest risk of getting Lyme disease and make up 25 to 30 percent of the cases.
"In children and youth, presenting symptoms are often cognitive, behavioral, or neuro-psychiatric showing up as behavior or personality changes or difficulties at school," said Wagner.
Dr. Nicole Chinnici, Director East Stroudsburg University Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory, said her lab is responsible for handling and processing thousands of tick tests each year.  County by county results of their tick tests is available online.
Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Secretary of Health, said estimates of the cost of a Lyme disease prevention and implementing the recommendations of the Task Force were a minimum of $4 million with surveillance being the highest expenditure.  She noted there has been a lack of specific funding for Lyme disease at the agency.
Sara Nicholas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said Lyme disease prevention is important to the agency because of their staff work in outdoor occupations and people come to state parks and forests to participate in outdoor recreation.
She said about 7 percent of Workers’ Compensation claims in DCNR are because of Lyme disease.
Nicholas noted DCNR has led an education campaign to spread awareness of Lyme disease in recreation areas and has taken steps, through habitat management, to prevent Lyme disease from spreading.
Jennifer Young Intelicato, Penn State University Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, spoke of her personal experience with Lyme disease which caused her to be bedridden for almost 3 years with partial blindness and temporary paralysis.  She said a misdiagnosis led to more complications from the disease and noted long-term antibiotics were the only solution for her condition.
Click Here for a video of the hearing and written testimony.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Majority Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and can be contacted by sending email to:  Sen. Judith Schwank (D-Berks) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to:
Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Mercer), Majority Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, and can be contacted by sending email to: Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to:
Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is often transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a bull’s eye rash may appear, and other symptoms that can be mistaken for viral infections, such as influenza or infectious mononucleosis.
Joint pain can be mistaken for other types of arthritis, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and neurologic signs of Lyme disease can mimic those caused by other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
When detected early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.
For more information on Lyme disease and prevention, visit the Department of Health’s Lyme Disease webpage.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner