For Immediate Release
Today, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed SB 177, State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s (R-Bucks, Montgomery) legislation to create a task force within the Department of Health to provide greater public awareness and education about Lyme disease.
The task force would develop a public education program and coordinate its efforts with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Education to reach outdoorsman, visitors to state parks, and students. The task force will investigate and make recommendations to the Health Department regarding surveillance and prevention of Lyme disease as well as development of a general public and health care professional information and education program.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by ticks. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases pose a serious threat to the quality of life for Pennsylvanians, with Lyme disease cases increasing dramatically over the past several years.
From 2006 to 2011, total reported cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania have more than doubled. During 2011, Pennsylvania ranked first in the nation with 5,362 confirmed cases, and according to CDC provisional numbers for 2012, has experienced an additional increase to 6,823 cases, again ranking Pennsylvania first in reported cases. While Lyme disease is most prevalent in Southeastern PA, it is found across the Commonwealth. The early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce risks of continued symptoms which affect every system and organ in the body. Lyme disease poses a serious threat to quality of life of many Pennsylvanians and we need to provide greater public awareness.
“Lyme disease has become a major issue across Pennsylvania, especially in the southeastern region of the state,” said Senator Greenleaf. “With the rapid increase of Lyme disease, we must ramp up efforts to educate the public on how to prevent this disease while enjoying the outdoors.”
SB 177 will now be considered by the House of Representatives.