HARRISBURG – With Pennsylvania leading the nation in cases of Lyme disease, Rep. Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland), whose efforts led to increased funding in the new state budget, said today that the Commonwealth is taking several policy-related steps to help combat the disease and assist with treatment for those afflicted.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that most people get from the bite of a deer tick. If left untreated, the disease can cause very serious physical and neurological problems that are hard to manage down the road.
“Preventing, detecting and treating tick-borne diseases should be a major set of public health goals for the Commonwealth,” said Rothman. “We can and should do more to help those impacted by tick-borne diseases. That’s why I pushed for additional money in the 2018-19 state budget dedicated to proactively fight the disease, reduce tick populations and offer better treatment for those battling it.”
Rep. Rothman has been articulating his message to various media outlets in the area. He was the guest on WHP CBS 21 in Harrisburg, today, Tuesday, Oct. 2. His comments were aired at 6:20 a.m., and can be viewed again at 5:20 p.m.
Pennsylvania has led the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years, with deer ticks having been found in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. In 2016, Pennsylvania reported 12,200 cases of Lyme disease, which is about 40 percent of the nation’s cases.
Several pieces of legislation supported by Rothman have been introduced this session to both prevent the disease and offer support to those afflicted with it. They include:
• House Bill 174,
which seeks to ensure patients have access to available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options for Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases. The bill passed the House with a vote of 188-6 and is currently in the Senate.
• House Bill 2288
, which 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 2301
, which 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.
• House Resolution 761
, which would urge the federal government to dedicate a large portion of the $22 million it provides to states for Lyme disease financing to Pennsylvania.
• House Resolution 943
, which urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promptly consider candidates for Lyme disease vaccinations currently seeking approval under the drug approval process.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a bull’s eye rash may appear, and other symptoms that can be mistaken for viral infections, such as influenza or infectious mononucleosis. Joint pain can be mistaken for other types of arthritis, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), and neurologic signs of Lyme disease can mimic those caused by other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Learning about Lyme disease and preventing tick-borne illnesses is increasingly becoming an important aspect of general health education, said Rothman. Information can be received through local health departments, a physician and state and federal websites.”
Representative Greg Rothman
87th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)