By State Rep. Marcia Hahn (R-138/Northampton)
There is a very good chance that someone you know has been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Last year, Pennsylvania had the second-highest number of confirmed cases of the disease in the country, trailing only New Jersey.
It is not uncommon for Lyme disease to go undetected, be undertreated or misdiagnosed. As a result, many who suffer with the disease are frustrated with the inability to properly diagnose and treat it.
I recently attempted to help rectify that situation by voting in favor of House Bill 272, legislation passed by the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The bill, which may now be considered by the full House, allows a physician to prescribe long-term antibiotic therapy for late stage Lyme disease. It requires all health care insurance policies to cover treatment for Lyme disease, including long-term therapies.
House Bill 272 also establishes a Department of Health task force to investigate and make recommendations regarding the prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. In addition, a program of public and professional education on the disease will be developed, in order to raise awareness of the long-term effects of the disease being misdiagnosed.
Lyme disease is easily cured with antibiotics when caught early. Left untreated or undertreated, the disease can result in serious complications. We need to do all we can to make the public aware of preventive measures to take and the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as ensure that those who contract Lyme disease are equipped with the medication necessary to recover from it.