Massachusetts Lyme Disease Report Delayed – Why?

by lmatthews on January 22, 2013

trish-mccleary lyme disease commission massachusetts

Trish McCleary, part of the MA Lyme Disease Commission, is angry at the report's delayed publication.

The Massachusetts State Legislature created the Massachusetts Lyme Disease Commission in April 2011 with the purpose of reporting on how to combat Lyme disease. That report, scheduled for release in October 2012 is yet to be published and Lyme disease activists are growing increasingly frustrated with the delays.

Technical Delays on Lyme Disease Report

One such advocate for health reform on Lyme disease is author Katina Makris, whose book, ‘Out of the Woods’ we reviewed previously. Makris, a Lyme disease survivor, has called for the process to be expedited as she believes, along with many others, that it is imperative Massachusetts take action against Lyme disease as soon as possible. The report was intended to consider options for screening programs, Lyme disease prevention strategies and other public health initiatives. The delays in publication are said to be the result of ‘technical difficulties’ but at least one activist who is on the MA Lyme Disease Commission has said that the .’

Lyme Disease Spreads Across US

Massachusetts is one of a couple of dozen states with rapidly growing numbers of Lyme disease cases. As the infection can create systemic symptoms that mimic other diseases and conditions it is recognized that diagnosis is not as simple as once thought. Even the Centers for Disease Control admit that the number of reported Lyme disease cases is likely only around an eighth of the actual total. More cases are expected as the ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacteria, continue to spread farther across the US as a result of climate change and animal migration. The continued encroachment of humans into rural spaces is also a factor in the growing number of tick bites and Lyme disease cases.


What a Lyme Disease Public Health Plan Might Look Like

States previously thought unaffected by Lyme disease are now reporting cases and, themselves, considering the need for a Lyme Disease Prevention Plan. Things that may be included in such strategies are:

  • Lyme disease education in schools and community centers
  • Funding to train physicians to be more confident in diagnosing Lyme disease
  • Funding for Lyme disease treatment and prevention research
  • Landscaping and animal control measures to reduce human exposure to ticks carrying bacteria

Dangerous Lack of Lyme Awareness

Tens of thousands of people are reported to contract Lyme disease annually in the US; many more remain undiagnosed and untreated. The suffering endured by those with Lyme disease, who may go undiagnosed for years, even decades, is accompanied by an increased economic burden. People who, with appropriate treatment, could be restored to health and able to work again are, instead, left untreated or mistreated and incapable of performing jobs or achieving further education to help both themselves and their communities. Those diagnosed erroneously with fibromyalgia, migraines, arthritis, Lupus, or even Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease are at risk of being given medications and treatments that actually make it easier for the infection to spread and cause permanent tissue damage.

Protecting Against Lyme Disease

There are numerous strategies under discussion across the US for Lyme Disease Prevention, and new research on Lyme disease being carried out and published all the time. While the task of the Massachusetts Lyme Disease Commission may seem endless it is increasingly important that the technical difficulties be resolved, the report be published, and residents of the state begin to have real protections put in place to reduce their risk of Lyme disease.

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