Mid-Summer Lyme Disease Reminder
While summer is currently still upon us, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some information with you that you may find helpful. Please stay alert regarding ticks and tick borne illnesses such as Lyme disease by continuing to limit your exposure to ticks, and practice preventative measures when outside. It is important to be extra cautious during the warm months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors.
Unfortunately, Lyme disease continues as a problem in the Commonwealth. Virginia remains one of the thirteen states from which 95 percent of Lyme Disease cases are reported, and reported cases increased 9 percent between 2011 and 2012. We must remain vigilant and active in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
I've heard from so many people in our community who are battling Lyme. Since I first took office, I have worked with leaders throughout Northern Virginia, including our Congressman Frank Wolf and Lyme Disease prevention advocates, to increase public awareness of this public health threat. In 2011 I sponsored HJR 643, which designates every May as "Lyme Disease Awareness Month" in Virginia. As a result of this increased awareness and other publicity, the Commonwealth has continued to address the ever-increasing problem of Lyme disease.
According to the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association, 71 percent of patients who take the test for Lyme will get a false negative. To better protect Virginians, I sponsored HB1933 last year, known as the Lyme Disease Testing Information Disclosure Act, which is a major milestone in the fight against Lyme Disease. Virginia is now first state to notify anyone tested for Lyme that current laboratory testing can produce false negatives, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Passage of this legislation continues to be important to so many of my constituents who have Lyme Disease or have someone in their life who suffers from this disease. So often, patients go undiagnosed for months and even years. With passage of this legislation, we are now able to focus on getting information about testing problems directly to patients so they can seek additional testing if necessary, as well as appropriate treatment.
I'm continuously encouraged by advances in science and testing for Lyme Disease. Researchers from George Mason University's Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) and business partner Ceres Nanoscience have been working on a new technology that will dramatically improve the detection of Lyme Disease at much earlier stages. I understand that they hope to make this test available to the public sometime this fall.
I am also grateful for organizations like The National Capital Lyme Disease Association and the work that they do on a daily basis for all of our neighbors, family and friends who are affected by this debilitating disease. I'm committed to continuing to work with the community and other elected officials to address this problem and I'm proud of the work we've accomplished thus far.
If you think that you may have contracted Lyme Disease please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Lyme Disease Prevention site, which provides information about symptoms and treatment, or the Virginia Department of Health's Lyme Disease Fact Sheet. Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches and fatigue. If left untreated or if treatment is delayed, the disease can become chronic with serious, debilitating complications, such as joint pain and swelling, heart disease, neurological problems (e.g., Bell's palsy), dizziness, irritability, ADHD-like symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, muscle weakness and neuropathy.
The potential to be exposed to this disease is an ever-present threat and I encourage you to remain vigilant. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information listed on these sites.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact my office on matters of concern to you. I can be reached by email email@example.com or by phone at 703-772-7168.