Lyme group will host congressional lunch forum on tick-borne disease
In addition to a rally Tuesday in Harrisburg aimed at drawing attention to the treatment of tick-borne illness in Pennsylvania, the Center for Lyme Action will host a congressional lunch forum to push for more efforts to address what center officials call “an invisible epidemic.”
“Lyme is a frustrating and debilitating disease, but it’s a problem we can solve,” said longtime advocate Bonnie Crater. “What is needed is dedicated and sustained funding to research and commercialize a better way to diagnosis and treat this growing public health threat.”
Crater and center officials will host a forum Tuesday in Washington D.C. with opening remarks from U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., who serves as chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., co-chair of the House Lyme Disease Caucus and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chair of House Lyme Disease Caucus.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will deliver the keynote video address. The forum will also feature the perspectives of doctors, leading disease experts, representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and young patients.
Smith in June introduced House Resolution 3073, the “Ticks: Identify, Control and Knockout,” or TICK Act, would create an Office of Oversight and Coordination for Vector-Borne Diseases within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
That director would oversee the creation of a national strategy to address Lyme and other tick- and vector-borne diseases, including the expansion and improvement of tick surveillance, development of testing to more effectively and accurately diagnose Lyme and other vector-borne diseases and the awarding of grants, contracts and agreements to establish regional “centers of excellence” in tick- and vector-borne disease.
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed annually with Lyme disease.
The TICK Act is currently in the House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce. An identical Senate bill, introduced in May, is in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .