Lyme Disease Bill Passes General Assembly
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Posted by: Senator Dinniman Press Release
WEST CHESTER – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that Senate Bill 177, the Lyme and Related Tick-Borne Disease Surveillance, Education and Prevention and Treatment Act, has been approved by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and now awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature.
Dinniman, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said he was committed to working hand-in-hand with the Senator Stewart Greenleaf, the bill’s prime sponsor, to get it passed due to the prevalence of Lyme disease in Chester County.
“This legislation marks a major step forward in recognizing, raising awareness of and helping prevent Lyme disease, which is extremely prevalent in our region and poses a serious threat to our health and quality of life,” Dinniman said. “I want to personally thank Senator Greenleaf for his tireless work on this legislation, as well as advocates from the Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Awareness Committee, the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.”
Lyme disease is transmitted by deer tick bites. The early clinical diagnosis and appropriate treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can greatly reduce their risks. Left untreated, Lyme can cause a number of symptoms that can become quite severe and affect every system and organ in the body.
Senate Bill 177 establishes a task force on Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases that will operate under the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The task force will investigate and make recommendations regarding the following:
- Surveillance and prevention of Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases.
- Collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Education and the Department of Environmental Protection to educate the public through the distribution of information about the prevention of Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases.
- Development of a program of information for the general public and health care professionals regarding the broad spectrum of scientific and treatment options for all stages of Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases.
The legislation calls for the task force to issue a report of its findings within one year. In addition, it stipulates that the Department of Health make available on its website current data on tick surveillance programs and publish the results of active tick surveillance and communication programs within 45 days of the bill taking effect.
“Lyme disease is on the rise nationwide, and southeastern Pennsylvania – right here in our own backyard – is ground zero,” Dinniman said. “The first step in the battle against Lyme is knowing the risks and knowing how to prevent it. This legislation is a good start in ensuring that our residents have the information they need to stay safe and stay healthy.”
In 2009 and 2011, Pennsylvania reported the highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the nation. From 2002 to 2011, the Commonwealth reported a total of 42,032 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.
In August 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that preliminary estimates indicate approximately 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme ease year. This is approximately a tenfold increase from the number of cases previously reported to the CDC every year.