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Battling Lyme disease
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:46 pm    Post subject: Battling Lyme disease Reply with quote

EDITORIALS Battling Lyme disease

Monday, July 17, 2006
The Times NJ

Rep. Chris Smith, R-Hamil ton, has introduced a bill in Congress that,
if enacted, will go a long way toward gaining the upper hand in the
growing Lyme disease problem. HR 3427, the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease
Prevention, Education and Research Act, has more than 70 bipartisan

Lyme disease is a hard-to-diagnose affliction that, if not treated
early, can lead to chronic illness, including damage to the central ner
vous and cardiac systems. What makes the disease so hard to diagnose is
that early symptons, which may include fever, rash and headaches, can
be confused with the flu. And typically, tick bites that transmit the
disease are tiny and hard to spot.

Anyone who has been afflicted with Lyme disease or has had loved ones
stricken by the disease knows the frustration over diagnosis and
treatment. The Smith bill would boost by $20 million a year the funding
for research and education over the next five years.
The appropriation can't come soon enough. The number of reported cases
in New Jersey last year was a record high 3,372. In 2004, the number of
reported cases was 2,698. Just five years ago, the number was 2,020.
Clearly, New Jersey has a problem, but it's not limited to the Garden
State. Nationally, 22,000 were diagnosed. Researchers think that the
diagnosed cases amount to only about 10 percent of those who actually
suffer from the disease. That's why the education component of the bill
is so important.

Rep. Smith has met with officials of the Centers for Disease Control,
physicians and Lyme-control activists in discussions on what is needed
to fight the disease and protect the people. "I have become
increasingly concerned with reports of patients who go long periods of
time before getting a definitive diagnosis due to the lack of a
gold-standard diagnostic test and who receive delayed or inappropriate
treatment because of the lack of treating physicians nationwide," Rep.
Smith said in a release.

His bill would create a federal Lyme-disease task force to make sure
that the "gold standard" test is developed. The bill should be
fast-tracked through Congress.
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