Lyme Disease Legislation is Introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Children and Families, along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), have introduced the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act of 2009. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).

"Every year, tens of thousands of Americans working or playing outdoors are bitten by ticks. For most, it is nothing more than a minor annoyance. But approximately 20,000 Americans contract Lyme disease each year, and the numbers are rising," said Dodd. "And because Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose, many experts believe the true number of cases each year could be as much as 12 or 12 times the reported number. Worst of all, it's our children who are most at risk."

The bill would require that the Secretary of Health and Human Services establish a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee within the Office of the Secretary to address tickborne diseases with other federal agencies and private organizations. It also would require the Secretary act through federal agencies to engage in activities including working to increase public education, creating a physician education program and sponsoring scientific conferences on tickborne diseases.

The bill is supported by Time for Lyme, Inc., a Connecticut-based organization that seeks to eliminate tickborne diseases by promoting research, education and legislation.