Today, the Pennsylvania Senate concurred in House amendments to State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s SB 177, legislation creating a task force within the Pennsylvania Department of Health to educate the public about Lyme disease and conduct a tick surveillance program across the Commonwealth. The legislation will now be sent to the Governor.
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.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, Pennsylvania ranked highest in the country in the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease. From 2002 to 2012, Pennsylvania has reported a total of 46,178 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.
While Lyme disease is most prevalent in Southeastern PA, it is found across the Commonwealth. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce risks of continued symptoms which can affect every system and organ in the body.
“Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Greenleaf. “I look forward to seeing SB 177 signed into law so we can more closely monitor Lyme carrying ticks and help people avoid this debilitating disease.”