EAST STROUDSBURG – Continuing to shed light on the current health crisis caused by Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in the Commonwealth, Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) along with Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Crawford/Forest/Warren), chairwoman of the House Health Committee, and other committee members held a public hearing to talk with local and state officials and their recommendations about how the state can combat this crisis.
“Pennsylvania continues to lead in Lyme and tick-borne disease cases in the United States,” said Brown. “It is imperative that our local and state officials, as well as our Legislature, continue working side by side to develop new and innovative ways to continue raising awareness about the tick-borne diseases that plague our Commonwealth while also making sure that our doctors and their patients are aware of their options for testing and treating these tick-borne diseases.”
Brown, who is a known advocate for Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention, has sponsored the following legislation:
• House Bill 94
would require school nurses to remove a tick when it is found on a child during the school day, notify the parent or guardian with medical information and resources, and store the tick for seven days.
• House Bill 96
would require physicians to complete two hours of continuing medical education focused on Lyme disease and related tick-borne illnesses to help physicians receive the most up-to-date information on pathogens, testing parameters, patient symptom profiles and current treatment options.
“Once again, the biggest take away from today’s hearing is that this severe, debilitating disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics when detected and treated early,” said Rapp. “Currently awaiting consideration in the state Senate, my Lyme disease prevention legislation, (House Bill 629
) is a win-win to ensure that every patient diagnosed with this epidemic and other related tick-borne diseases has full access and insurance coverage for available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options, regardless if the treatment plan includes short-term or long-term antibiotic treatment..”
Nicole Chinnici, director of East Stroudsburg University’s Tick Research Lab, added “It is essential we continue to evolve with the rapidly evolving world of ticks. Continuing to fund the free tick-testing program is critical in generating important education and tick-borne disease prevalence data, as well as giving physicians an extra diagnostic tool to better understand their patients’ risk of developing a tick-borne disease.”
ESU’s Tick Research Lab provides a FREE base test on ticks submitted for Lyme disease as well as three additional tests based on the species of tick. Pennsylvanians can send a tick sample to the lab and receive the test results. These samples can be mailed to 562 Independence Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301.
Also present at the hearing was Donald Eggen, forest health manager for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Eggen stated that “prevention and awareness are key factors in stopping the transmission of Lyme disease to humans and should be the focal point of outreach and education efforts. Due to the nature of their work, DCNR field staff continually encounter ticks. So, assistance, like the rapid testing of ticks by the staff at the Tick Lab here at East Stroudsburg University, is a big help in treating and preventing Lyme disease. People with tick-borne diseases need access to rapid diagnosis and timely treatment.”
For more information about tick-borne diseases or how to submit a tick for testing, visit ticklab.org
Representative Rosemary M. Brown
189th Legislative District
Representative Kathy Rapp
65th Legislative District
PA House of Representatives
Media Contacts: Abby Krueger