Langevin, Simmons and Lyme Disease Association Host Educational Forum

Aug 7, 2002

(WESTERLY, R.I.)–Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Rob Simmons (R-CT) tonight hosted a bi-partisan Lyme Disease Forum at Westerly Hospital, to educate the public and health care professionals about Lyme disease and the problems affecting Lyme disease patients and physicians.  Both Congressmen also detailed legislation they are supporting to combat Lyme Disease.

 Hundreds of local Rhode Island and Connecticut residents attended this Lyme Disease Association-sponsored event.

 Picture of the Old Gate“Rhode Island has one of the highest numbers of reported Lyme disease cases in the nation,” said Congressman Langevin.  “It is imperative that we work to focus the public’s attention on this disease to discuss prevention and treatment.  Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can affect every system in the body and produce a wide range of painful symptoms.” 

According to statistics from the University of Rhode Island, many tick-monitoring stations throughout the state have reported a four-to-eight-fold increase in tick numbers since last year.  In southern Rhode Island, URI reports tick populations at or just below average.  As a result of the escalating tick population in the northern parts of the state, URI researchers say that Lyme disease cases are expected to increase.

 In Congress, both Langevin and Simmons are supporting legislation to address the problems that Lyme disease inflicts upon our neighborhoods and communities.

 The Congressman Speaks about Legislation to Preserve Rocky PointLangevin reiterated his support for H.R. 1254, the Lyme Disease Initiative, legislation that would establish a detection test, an improved surveillance and reporting system and concrete prevention goals to provide for a reduction in the incidence of Lyme disease and related tick-borne illnesses.  The bill also establishes a Lyme Disease Taskforce to advise the Secretaries of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Interior and Defense on how to best achieve these goals.

 The other piece of legislation Langevin discussed at the forum was H.R. 2118, the Lyme and Infectious Disease Information and Fairness in Treatment Act, which would establish a Tick-Borne Disorders Advisory Committee in the Department of Health and Human Services in order to foster better coordination between government agencies and develop informed responses to citizens.  The legislation also authorizes federal funds to the Centers for Disease Control to develop better diagnostic tools and tests in addition to expanding educational efforts. 

 The Congressman Speaks in Front of the Gate to Local Officials and Residents“I am hopeful that Congressional action, along with continued public awareness efforts such as this evening’s forum, will ensure that our families, health workers and elected officials are aware of the causes and symptoms of Lyme disease and that we are all working together to combat this disease in our neighborhoods,” added Langevin.

 Lyme disease is the fastest-growing disease transmitted by insects and other organisms in the United States. It can affect every system in the body and produces symptoms ranging from headaches and fatigue to musculo-skeletal, cardiac, ophthalmologic, and psychiatric symptoms. No one is safe from the disease, which often afflicts children and can effectively steal their childhood. 

Speakers at the Lyme Disease forum, moderated by Dr. Anthony Cirillo of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Memorial Hospital, included Joseph Larisa, Chair of the Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Lyme Disease and Other Tick-borne Diseases; Connecticut Commissioner of Health Joxel Garcia, M.D.; Joseph Burrascano, MD,  author of Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease and Other Tick-borne Diseases; Richard Horowitz, MD, author of Understanding the Role of Laboratory Testing in Lyme Disease; Kenneth Liegner, MD, author of Overview of Lyme Disease and Possible Mechanisms of Persistence; Karen Forschner, Lyme Disease Foundation; and Pat Smith, President, Lyme Disease Association, and author of Nationwide Overview of Lyme Disease Including Problems Facing Doctors and Patients and Potential Remedies Being Explored.

The Lyme Disease Association (LDA)  is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which is unique as an all-volunteer national organization dedicated to prevention, education, and providing monies for research. To date, LDA has raised well over a million dollars for these purposes and has funded research projects nationwide and distributed literature worldwide. It has also sponsored several fully accredited medical conferences for physicians. 

On the web: Facts about Lyme Disease (source: Centers for Disease Control)