Congress Takes Action Against Lyme Disease


U.S. Senate approves Reed-backed Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education,
and Research Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Five years after U.S. Senator Jack Reed first called for a national
strategy to combat Lyme disease, Congress passed the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease
Prevention, Education, and Research Act. The bipartisan legislation, backed by Reed
and U.S Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), will expand
federal research efforts to increase surveillance, enhance prevention efforts, and
help improve tests to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.

«Lyme disease is a serious health problem and for too long it has been a health
mystery. We need a national strategy that includes boosting federal research and
coordination to help prevent Lyme disease and strengthen surveillance of tick-borne
illnesses. We also want to ensure doctors and nurses have the latest tools and
training they need to properly diagnose and treat patients,» said Reed, a member of
the Appropriations Committee, who last year helped secure $23 million for NIH’s
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for Lyme Disease research
grants. «Raising awareness and advancing research and surveillance are vital to our
efforts to eradicate suffering from Lyme disease and other infectious diseases.»

Rhode Island has a higher incidence of Lyme disease than the national average.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 904 people reported contracting
the disease in 2015 alone.

The incidence of tick-borne disease throughout the country has doubled since 1991.
Nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates
about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed annually.

The Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act would:

* Establish a Tick-Borne Disease Advisory Committee to streamline
coordination between federal agencies and private organizations addressing
tick-borne illnesses.
* Coordinate Increased Research and Development Around Lyme Disease: It
would help the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop more
accurate and time-sensitive diagnostic tools to strengthen surveillance and
reporting of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.
* Increase Education: It would expand prevention of Lyme and other
tick-borne diseases through community-based public education and create a
physician-education program that includes the full spectrum of scientific research
on the diseases.

To help raise awareness and improve prevention in Rhode Island, Reed has worked over
the years to secure federal appropriations to help University of Rhode Island
researchers examine ways to cut down Lyme disease infection rates.

Similar legislation was approved last month by the U.S. House of Representatives, as
part of a larger health bill. The measure now goes to President Obama’s desk to be
signed into law.

To learn more about tick bite protection and prevention resources, visit: Run by Dr. Tom Mather, URI
Professor of Public Health Entomology, the site promotes tick-bite protection and
tick-borne disease prevention by engaging, educating, and empowering people to take