On June 25, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and other Northern Virginia lawmakers met at Claude Moore Park in Sterling for the ceremonial signing of the Lyme Disease Information Disclosure Act of 2013.
Both Loudoun and Fairfax counties have been frontlines for the incapacitating Lyme Disease. The Virginia Department of Health reports that there were an estimated 1,110 cases of Lyme Disease in the state in 2012, up 9 percent from 2011. Cases were reported in all regions of Virginia.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 2013 as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Only the blacklegged, or deer tick, transmits the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Lyme is generally transferred to people by the bite of an infected tick.
The Lyme legislation was introduced this year by Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) and sponsored by delegates Tag Greason (R-32), Tom Rust (R-86), David Ramadan (R-87) and Randy Minchew (R-10) in the House of Delegates.
In a statement on her webpage, Comstock described the tick and Lyme disease issue as a matter of vital importance:
“Passage of this legislation is important to so many of my constituents who have Lyme Disease or have someone in their life who suffers from this disease. So often patients go untreated and undiagnosed for months and even years. When the Lyme Disease Testing Information Disclosure Act goes into effect on July 1st, we can focus on getting information about testing problems directly to patients so they can seek additional testing, if necessary, as well as appropriate treatment.”
Comstock's measure requires state Department of Health officials to provide information to doctors regarding the possibility of inaccurate test results for and an ensuing misdiagnosis. Doctors must disclose this information to patients. “This was a true grass roots effort,” said Comstock.
“Knowing what your options are from your physician is powerful,” said Governor McDonnell. “And this bill will help to provide more information to patients.” Virginia will be the first state in the country to pass Lyme Disease legislation.
Boy Scout Chairman of the Goose Creek District, Priscilla Martinez, was also present along with several Boy Scouts. Martinez said ticks were a constant concern whenever the scout troops go camping, especially now that the warm summer months have arrived.
To learn more about Lyme Disease, visit this Fairfax County Government webpage: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/westnile/lyme-disease.htm.