NEWS: Pennsylvania Governor to sign Lyme bill, Oct. 6
Gov. Tom Corbett will sign the Lyme and Related Tick-Borne Disease Surveillance, Education, Prevention Act in a public ceremony at the State Capitol.
Lyme Bill Signing in Harrisburg
WHAT: On October 6, Governor Corbett will hold a public signing of Senate Bill #177, The Lyme and Related Tick-Borne Disease Surveillance, Education, Prevention Act. SB177 passed in June after 20+ years of advocacy.
LymeActionPA, chaired by Julia Wagner of Lower Gwynedd, formed a coalition of 15+ patient groups across the state, working for more than 8 years alongside Senator Stewart Greenleaf to address the Lyme epidemic in Pennsylvania. Last year, the CDC published results increasing the actual number of Lyme cases per year from 30,000 to 300,000. This means, in PA, the 7,387 cases reported in 2013 are really 73,870 new cases each year. Up to a third of new cases may result in persistent disease, found to impact quality of life more than congestive heart failure.
WHY: All Pennsylvanian’s are at risk for Lyme and other tickborne diseases. For children, the disease can prove devastating if undiagnosed – with less commonly recognized neuro-cognitive symptoms taking a significant toll: short-term memory issues, lowered IQ, ADD/ADHD, autism-like symptoms, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression, along with the more common symptoms of fatigue, muscle aches and pains, joint issues, and heart block. Seniors dealing with impaired memory and arthritic pain may not recognize these symptoms as a potentially treatable case of Lyme disease. Undiagnosed Lyme disease can progress to more difficult to treat, and more serious cases, with potential to significantly reduce quality of life.
OVERVIEW OF BILL:
1. Tick Surveillance Program – this will be a first in PA and is crucial to understand the full scope of these diseases in Pennsylvania. NJ, DE and NY are all considered endemic for Babesiosis and require reporting to the CDC. PA is not considered endemic, simply because no surveillance is being done.
A PA University lab has found Babesiosis, Bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichia, and Borrelia miyamotoi in our Pennsylvania ticks. With surveillance, this information will be reported to medical institutions and the public. Quite important, considering that Babesiosis alone has a 20% fatality rate, infects the blood supply, and can be passed through childbirth to infants.
2. Educational Access For Affected Schoolchildren: immediate changes to education rules add Chronic Lyme & Tick-borne diseases as covered conditions for accommodations.
3. Prevention Focus in the Schools: schools will take on a role in informing parents and authorities of tick attachments, and will see that prevention steps are taken.
4. New Task Force – A task force comprised of doctors, patients, and others has already met to come up with recommendations to be implemented within a year. This bill will accelerate the “catch-up” to current knowledge on these emerging diseases, to improve the patient experience and provide access to more appropriate care, and to implement critical prevention steps.
Julia Wagner, President, PALRN, Lower Gwynedd with Sarah, Sam, and Peter Wagner
Don Hannum, Chester/Delaware County Farm Bureau, Wagontown
Doug Fearn, President Lyme Disease Association of SE PA, West Chester
Eric Huck, PALRN, Harrisburg _______________________________
Gail Sheffer, PALRN, York Heidi and Tim Healy, Bethlehem
Linda Olley, RN, Mechanicsburg Anne and Katherine LoCasale, Wayne
Lisa and Josie Gaffney, Mechanicsburg Kim and Katie Robinson, Red Hill
[Also Representatives Baker and DiGirolamo with aide Elizabeth Yarnell, Senator Greenleaf and aide Eric Pauley]
WHERE & WHEN: Governor’s Offices, Reception Room, Main Capitol Building, 2nd Floor, Monday, October 6, 12:00 p.m.
Media Qs: Gretchen Harrison, Director of PR & Marketing, PA Lyme Resource Network, 215-498-3013 firstname.lastname@example.org