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Letter:New Lyme Legislation

To the Editor:

Appreciation is due to Governor Bob McDonnell and the local legislators who helped enact the “Lyme Disclosure Act” into law on Wednesday, March 13. Special recognition is due to Delegate Comstock for introducing the measure and Delegate Hugo for being a co-patron. Lyme Disease is becoming alarmingly prevalent in our community, and this is a small but important step to help those affected get early diagnosis and effective treatment.

Several years ago, my mother was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease after more than 20 years of mysterious symptoms and incorrect diagnoses. Unlike Lyme patients who get treatment promptly after being infected, much of the damage to her body is irreversible after such a long time. Pain is a daily part of her life, and she has not been able to manage long-term employment because of this. I can’t help but think of how much different things would be for our family if she had been diagnosed and treated much earlier.

Right here in Northern Virginia, our communities are seeing some of the highest Lyme Disease concentrations in our whole nation. Both early and appropriate treatment continues to remain absolutely vital to a successful recovery. While current testing methods have come a long way, they don’t always provide this opportunity. Detection is not as simple as discovering a tick bite and following it up with a quick visit to the doctor’s office. In many cases, the tick bite is not even noticed, as it is usually the size of a pinhead. Further, some of the key symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, and a flu-like cold are non-specific and not obvious indicators that the patient has Lyme Disease. This makes the doctor and patient conversation about shortcomings in Lyme testing all the more important. Thank you to Fairfax’s legislators who supported this important step!

H. Lillian Vogl

Oakton