Senate passes Sheehan resolution calling for report on Lyme disease from the Department of Health
STATE HOUSE — Lyme disease has hit the state hard this year, with Rhode Islanders six to eight times more likely to contract the disease than the national average. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are the ones most likely to suffer from it.
Those statistics are alarming to Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown), who introduced a resolution calling for a report from the Department of Health on the disease. The resolution (2015-S 1030) was passed Thursday by the Senate.
“The threat of Lyme disease is very serious and an important public health problem,” said Senator Sheehan, chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee. “Sen. Jack Reed has called for a national strategy to combat the disease. It’s concentrated most heavily here in the northeast and we need to make certain that we are all doing whatever we can to combat this awful illness.”
The resolution calls for a report that would address the current levels of Lyme disease in Rhode Island, the response of the medical community in treating the disease, an analysis of the best treatment practices, identifying any gaps in coverage or insurance protocols that affect access to comprehensive and adequate treatment, and the department’s current and long-term goals and strategies to address the high incidence of the disease in the state.
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that is spread by the bite of deer ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most commonly reported illness resulting from an insect bite in the United States. Due to the lack of predators, there is an overpopulation of deer in Rhode Island, which are a host species for the ticks.
“The chronic health conditions diagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and autoimmune disease all share many similar symptoms with Lyme disease,” said Senator Sheehan. “It is imperative that Lyme disease be diagnosed and treated correctly to help a patient recover without a lifetime of medications and suffering.”
The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated that for every known case of Lyme disease, there are about nine unreported cases.
The Senate resolution asks the Rhode Island Department of Health to report to the Senate President and the chairs of the Senate committees on Environment and Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Government Oversight by Jan. 31, 2016.
The resolution is cosponsored by Senators V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Christopher Scott Ottiano (R-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth) and Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly).
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903