The Mountain Times

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Lyme Disease: The silent epidemic

House Health Committee send directive to Department of Health

The Vermont Lyme Action Committee, an ad-hoc group of advocates supporting the need for recognition and treatment of Chronic Lyme and associated tick-borne diseases, congratulates the House Health Committee for the letter they sent to the Vermont Department of Health on May 8, 2013.

"Chronic Lyme has been controversial for years," member John Bauer said. "I think this is an important step toward providing adequate treatment for Vermonters."

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a spirochete (say "SPY-ROH-KEET") that humans can get from the bite of an infected deer tick. The spirochete's scientific name is Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is called "The Great Imitator" because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.

People usually get Lyme disease from ticks infected with Lyme spirochetes. Most human cases are caused by the nymphal, or immature, form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Because their bite is painless, many people do not realize they have been bitten. Vermont has the second highest rate of Lyme Disease per capita in the United States. These ticks are now inhabiting our play grounds, soccer fields, lawns, hiking trails, fields and gardens - carried often by our pets, common rodents, deer, and farm animals.

"The state of Vermont has been behind other states in the recognition and advanced treatment of Chronic Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Too many Vermonters have suffered greatly because of this. But with the help of our legislators and this most recent letter to the VT Dept. of Health, it is a great beginning in moving towards an environment of acknowledging current research, advanced protocols, and training in the field of Chronic Lyme and tick borne disease," said member Pat Bannerman.

"I am encouraged that the medical community will have opportunities to gain education about the testing, diagnosis and various treatment modalities for Lyme and other Tick Borne Diseases. My hope is that the medical community will take advantage of these opportunities in order to better serve the population of Vermont in respect to this life altering and epidemic disease," said member Pam Griffin-Tierney.

In the past year the Vermont Lyme Action Committee proposed a Bill in the House and Senate to protect physicians in Vermont who choose to diagnose and treat outside the prevailing standard of care in this state from retribution and possible loss of medical license.

As a result of the Bill hearings were held by the joint House and Senate Health Committees. During the hearings testimony was given by Vermonters about the impact of Chronic Lyme on themselves or loved ones and their frustration getting effective treatment in Vermont. Richard Horowitz M.D. and Daniel Cameron M.D. both well known and respected Lyme specialists from New York testified about diagnosis, treatment protocols and the associated science. VLAC provided both committees with written personal stories and scientific, evidence based information supporting needed changes in the diagnosis and effective treatment for Chronic Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

The Vermont Lyme Action Committee has been persistet with their on-going presence at the House Health Care Committee discussions and has contributed to this first formal step in educating the physicians and the public as well as getting effective treatment for Vermonters.

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