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Published On: Tue, Mar 12th, 2013

Sens. Gillibrand, Blumenthal and Congressman Chris Gibson join Lyme Disease group to host forum about the tick-borne disease

Three Northeastern members of Congress joined forces with a Lyme disease advocacy group Monday to  host a forum at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City to discuss the fight against the silent epidemic of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease.

Ixodes scapularis Image/CDC

Ixodes scapularis
Image/CDC

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) partnered with the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) for a forum featuring a panel of patients and experts address issues facing hundreds of thousands.

“With spring just around the corner, we must continue to work to ensure that our children and their families can enjoy the outdoors without the fear of contracting tick-borne diseases,” said Gillibrand. “It is time once and for all to take the right steps to prevent this horrible epidemic. We need to do more than check our kids for ticks when they come in from playing. We must invest in better research, educate families on the risks, emphasize prevention, and improve treatment strategies. I will continue to work my colleagues to push for legislation that would develop better tools for diagnosing and reporting Lyme disease, and ensure doctors are better equipped to diagnose and treat those who become infected.”

“Lyme disease is a pervasive and pernicious public health scourge,” Blumenthal said. “Today’s forum further underscores the urgent need for a strong national initiative to combat Lyme disease. There is a strong consensus that the nation must improve reporting of Lyme cases and develop better diagnostic tools. Inadequate diagnosis and reporting cause devastating damage to countless individuals every day. Lyme disease has reached epidemic proportions, and a national advisory body that gives patients a voice and a seat at the table with policymakers, scientists, researchers and others is imperative to better prevent and treat this disease. I look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand on legislation that will establish such a body and implement other necessary reforms.”

“Across my Congressional District and New York State, Lyme Disease has significantly impacted my constituents and many others,” said Gibson. “It is imperative we do a better job raising awareness of tick-borne illnesses and improve our current diagnosis and treatment options.  Today’s forum is an excellent step in that regard, and I appreciate the opportunity to partner with Sens. Gillibrand and Blumenthal in this effort.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Image/US Congress

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Image/US Congress

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has singled out Lyme disease as the most common and fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the country.  In 2011, more than 24,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in the U.S., with the CDC stating they believed only 10-12% of all cases had been reported.

When left untreated, or undertreated, victims of these diseases suffer extremely incapacitating illnesses that also cause significant preventable health care costs and reduced economic productivity. Further, victims of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases suffer in large part because there is currently no diagnostic tool that is even 60% reliable. Those infected often spend months, and in many cases years, searching to simply determine the cause of their illness.

“I applaud the efforts of Senator Gillibrand and Senator Blumenthal to bring more attention and resources to combating Lyme disease.  For many patients Lyme disease has severe impacts on quality-of-life and we must do more in the medical community to prevent and treat it,” said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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