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The Commonwealth of Virginia has officially declared April 7-13, 2013 to be Virginia Tick Borne Disease Awareness Week.

Tick related vector borne diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis have been a source of human and animal suffering and illness in Virginia for many years. The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes that tick related concerns and vector-borne diseases diminish enjoyment of the outdoors, public parks and playgrounds, tourism, hinders outdoor labor and reduces livestock productivity. It is important to encourage effective and environmentally safe tick control activities, and it is essential to facilitate communication and education among Virginia’s tick control professionals to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of tick control through integrated pest management in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health, in cooperation with other state agencies and government organizations labor continually in public awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases through public awareness and education.

Here at Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC, we have long been aware of the prevalence of ticks and tick-borne disease here in the DC region. Virginia has been struck especially hard by the increasing number of infected individuals and the fast spread of Lyme disease. We are thankful to have partnered with the National Capital Lyme Disease Association to help raise awareness of Lyme and tick-borne disease issues here in our region. We’re also happy to be a tick control specialists in our region, and offer services that eliminate ticks on your own property. We believe awareness of the dangers of ticks & prevention is key in battling an increase in tick-borne diseases here in the DC metro area.

The proclamation for Virginia’s Tick Borne Disease Awareness Week was signed on February 19, 2013 by Secretary Janet Vestal Kelly and Governor Bob McDonnell. See the proclamation here for more information:

Tick Borne Disease Awareness Week

A special thanks to our wonderful employee Dale, who was persistent in contacting Governor McDonnell’s office about declaring an official tick borne disease awareness week in Virginia. We’re thrilled to see the second week of April declared as an official state-wide initiative to inform the public about tick borne disease.

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We just received this email from our friends at the National Capital Lyme & Tick-Borne Disease Assocation, regarding an upcoming meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia tomorrow (Tues. March 20th, 2012). If you can attend tomorrow evening to help support the Tick Eradication Program for Loudoun County, please come. The meeting will be held at 5:00 pm in the Board Room of the Loudoun County Government Center located at 1 Harrison Street S.E, Leesburg, VA 20175.

Support Needed For Loudoun County Tick Eradication Program

Request from Ken Reid, Loudoun County Supervisor

Dear Friends:

I am pleased to announce that my colleagues, Supervisors Geary Higgins and Janet Clarke, are bringing an item to our March 20 meeting to fund a program to help kill Lyme (deer) ticks through spraying and an awareness campaign to have private landowners do the same.

This marks the first time a County Board has put forth any significant efforts to try to eradicate the ticks and hopefully limit new cases of Lyme.

Essentially, we’re looking at doing three things. We would like (#1) Board approval to move forward with spraying a few high-use, high-tick population parks early this spring and we are working with our Parks Department Director on this) (#2) authorize studying the safety and costs associated with large-scale spraying for next year and cooperating with the state Dept. of Game and Fisheries on a pilot program with 4-post deer feeders, and (#3) to seek approval to move forward with a public education campaign.

I also learned yesterday that the Loudoun County Schools administration may be interested in participating in this program for their properties.

Also, our Loudoun County Health Department and Health Council were directed today by the Finance Committee to make Lyme disease a center-piece of a proposed Countywide Health Improvement Plan, which will come back to the Board for action in June.

We would welcome folks in your various support groups to speak out on the evening of March 20 . The meeting generally starts at 5 pm and public comment occurs just after that time. You can sign up in advance by calling 703 777-0204 or sign in with the clerk that evening.

It is my hope that media will be present and that will encourage private landowners to spray or look into the deer feeders. It also will bring more publicity to this disease, which afflicts 200 new persons yearly. My number is below and my colleagues emails are above.

Your members can email the entire Board at BOS@Loudoun.gov if they cannot attend our meeting.

Thank you and warmest regards,

Ken Reid

Member, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors

Leesburg District
19B Wirt Street SW
Leesburg, VA 20175
703.779.8777
www.KenReid.org

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By:  Jennifer Imler

In order to effectively lobby for House Bill 512 (HB 512), or to influence any other bill that you support, it is imperative to understand the process a bill goes through to become a law and to know what opportunities you have to influence the bill and the process. For the sake of simplicity, I will describe the process that HB 512 went through, and thus will be tracking a bill originating in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Filing and Introduction

Before the beginning of the legislative session, delegates can file as many pieces of legislation as they desire, but after session begins, each delegate can file only up to five additional proposals. A few months ago, a constituent suffering from Lyme disease approached Delegate Rust with a bill proposal that would protect doctors from disciplinary action solely for treating Lyme disease patients with antibiotics for more than four weeks.

Within the medical community, a set of non-mandatory guidelines that call for treating Lyme disease with less than four weeks of antibiotics are promoted. However, doctors throughout the country face disciplinary action solely for prescribing antibiotics for more than four weeks to Lyme disease patients. While many of these doctors are later cleared of the charges, the costs incurred to fight against the charges, as well as the humiliation, adds up quickly. This has spread fear and controversy throughout the medical community, turning Lyme disease into a stigmatized disease that many doctors are uncomfortable treating.

After the proposal was brought to light, Delegate Rust, his constituent, and National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association worked closely together to develop HB 512 and to introduce it. HB 512 does not mandate a standard of care, nor does it prevent disciplinary action or investigations. Essentially HB 512 promotes trust in a doctor’s decision that is based on clinical knowledge and the patient’s symptoms without fear of reprisal.

Subcommittee

Once the bill is introduced and has a patron (usually the Delegate that drafted the bill), the House Speaker assigns the bill to the appropriate committee. HB 512 was assigned to the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee, where the committee chairman then assigned the bill to a subcommittee for review. The subcommittee, comprised of a smaller portion of the full committee, reviews the bill and can amend the bill before either voting to move the bill forward for a full committee hearing, tabling it (which means it does not advance to the full committee, but that it does not die); or killing the bill. In the case of HB 512, the subcommittee tabled the bill until the 2011 session.

Committee and House Floor

If the subcommittee motions for the bill to move forward, then the full committee will meet, amend the bill if necessary, and vote on whether to report, table, or kill the bill. If the vote is to report the bill, it will be heard by the full House, where another opportunity for amending the bill occurs. At this point, the bill must be supported by a full majority of the Delegates or else it dies.
Crossover
Bills that pass through the House, are then sent to the Senate on a day known as Crossover, where the process more or less repeats itself in the Senate. If the bill passes in the Senate, but has been amended since it left the House, the bill returns to the House for approval. If the bill passes and is not amended, it goes to the Governor for approval.

The Governor

The Governor can sign the bill, thus making it law; amend it; or veto the bill. If the Governor chooses to amend the legislation, then the bill returns to the General Assembly, which can either accept or reject the Governor’s changes. A vetoed bill will return to the General Assembly if the bill passed by more than a two-thirds margin in each chamber and the General Assembly may then override the Governor’s veto.

A Bill is Now Law

That is how a bill in Virginia becomes a law. As stated previously, it is imperative to understand this process in order to effectively advocate for a cause or a bill. Although I used Virginia’s process as an example, most states have a similar process. If you are unsure of the process in your state, please check your state legislature’s website.

Be sure to check back soon for a for a recap on my personal experience in lobbying with NatCapLyme and other proponents of HB 512, as well as for a recap on the subcommittee meeting and what the outcome really means!

If you would like more information on the legislative process in Virginia, please visit either Virginia’s State Legislature website or Democracy for Virginia.

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As many of you are aware, the subcommittee met on Monday evening to hear evidence regarding Delegate Rust’s H.B. 512 and to deliberate, and we wanted to quickly update all of our readers on the outcome.  All of the emails, letters and phone calls you sent to your delegates were heard; we had extensive support throughout the main committee.  Unfortunately, we were up against a stacked deck and a subcommittee that was generally not in support of H.B. 512.  It appeared as though the bill would be killed.  However, proponents of the bill presented compelling statements for why this bill is so important, but what really saved the bill were the constituents!  Over 100 people showed up to the subcommittee meeting, packed themselves into the committee meeting room, and stood when asked to show their support for the bill.

With all of the constituent support, the bill was not killed.  Instead, the subcommittee motioned and seconded for the bill to be moved forward to the 2011 session.  While this is not a complete win, this does give us another year to continue our efforts in awareness, education, and grassroots campaigning.  Any suggestions that you may have to help us in our endeavor over the next year to raise awareness, increase education, and participate in grassroots campaigning is greatly welcome!

Please check back in the following weeks for posts regarding what went into this bill, including the creation, lobbying, and subcommittee meeting.  If we all continue to join together, we can get this bill passed in the 2011 session and allow our doctors to treat Lyme disease with antibiotics for more than four weeks without fear of disciplinary action!

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Have you contacted your Virginia State Delegate or Senator yet regarding your support for Bill H.B. 512?

If you have not contacted your delegate – please do so right away! Delegate Rust’s Bill H.B. 512 is an incredibly important piece of legislation that would allow physician’s to treat Lyme disease patients with antibiotics for more than four weeks without the fear of disciplinary action. The committee meeting is on Monday, so if the bill is not passed on Monday, it dies.

Please help us to ensure that Lyme disease patients receive the adequate treatment that they need, without their doctor risking disciplinary action! National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association has been working closely with Delegate Rust on this bill. At NatCapLyme.org you can read the actual bill, find your local delegate’s contact information, and even email them right then there. NatCapLyme provides a sample form letter for you to copy and paste to quickly let your delegate know where you stand, or you can create your own message.  The important thing is for you to let your delegate know that you support the bill and for your delegate to sign on as a co-sponsor!

So if you have not already done so, please contact your local delegate to let them know that you strongly support the bill, are counting on his or her support, and are asking him or her to sign-on to the bill as a co-sponsor. This is incredibly important!

For those of you who have already contacted your representatives, Thank You!

If we all work together, we can improve the treatment for Lyme disease!

Please see our original post, Lyme Legislation, for more information or visit the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association website.

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By:  Jennifer Imler

“I am now part of a club of people with a stigmatized disease that many doctors refuse to touch.”  Rebecca Wells, author of the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Lyme disease patient 

Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the United States.  As evidenced by Sharon’s story below and so many other stories like hers, education and raising awareness about the disease, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention is more important than ever.  Ensuring that doctors are Lyme-literate is especially important so the disease may be caught in the early stages, before the ignorance and stigmatization of Lyme disease has the chance to destroy the patient’s marriage, career, family, health, and even their life.  Most doctors are uneducated about and uncomfortable with diagnosing and treating Lyme disease and can actually risk facing disciplinary action for treating Lyme disease patients with an efficient protocol, which requires antibiotics for longer than four weeks.  

Amy Tan, Rebecca Wells, and Jimmy Wales are all well-known Lyme disease patients, but our friend, Sharon Rainey, has also been diagnosed with Lyme disease.  By sharing a synopsis of her struggle with Lyme below, we sincerely hope that you learn from it, understand how important awareness is, and hopefully choose to help the quest to raise awareness for Lyme disease.   

SHARON’S STORY:

Sharon Rainey, founder of myNeighborsNetwork, is a successful and intelligent businesswoman with a supportive and loving family.  After an incredibly long journey to have the extensive list of symptoms correctly identified, Sharon was diagnosed with Bartonella, a co-infection of Lyme disease and Babesia, tick-borne illnesses by a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) in September of 2009. 

EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL AND BIZARRE SYMPTOMS

In June of 1981, Sharon was a bright and happy high school senior when viral meningitis attacked.  By October, she was sleeping 23 hours a day and had to drop out of college for a semester.  The doctors had no definitive diagnosis, but no one suspected a tick-borne disease.   

For the following ten years, the disease remained relatively quiet, only surfacing through bizarre but seemingly unconnected symptoms: sun sensitivity, dental problems, recurrent sinus infections, and migraines. After the birth of her son, more painful and debilitating symptoms developed including joint pain, gallbladder problems, H.Pylori infection, hypothyroidism, elevated heart rate, daytime sleepiness, numbness in her hands and feet, occasional blurred vision, and vitamin deficiencies.  They would come and go, enough to be significantly irritating, but not urgent.  In Spring 2009, a clumsy fall caused tasks as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, something that most of us take for granted, to become excruciatingly painful.   

WHAT THE DOCTORS MISSED

Between 2003 and 2009, multiple Lyme tests (ELISA) were negative.  However, the general ELISA test can be up to 70% inaccurate.  If the physicians had requested the Western Blot to be run regardless of the ELISA result, Sharon could have received the correct diagnosis earlier and avoided much of the debilitating pain.  The numerous specialist visits and misdiagnoses culminated in 2009, including  being told she required immediate back surgery, a misdiagnosis of Lupus, and a subsequent misdiagnosis of Bursitis, all within four months.   

A GUIDING LIGHT

Sharon’s uncle, whose wife died at age 57 due to Lyme disease that was not diagnosed in time, became Sharon’s “guiding light.”  Refusing to let Sharon give up or accept a misdiagnosis, her uncle not-so-gently prodded her to keep trying, while providing extensive documentation to prove to Sharon that she had Lyme disease.  Finally, in September of 2009, Sharon found a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) who diagnosed her with Bartonella, a co-infection of Lyme disease and Babesia, after further testing.   

SHE MAY NEVER BE CURED

Diagnosis is only the first step.  Sharon’s treatment will take more than a year. Since treatment began only four months ago, many symptoms have lessened; she is feeling much better already.  Although there are some setbacks; some of the medications can initially increase the severity of the symptoms, but Sharon knows she will conquer this disease. 

Sharon’s current list of medications includes several supplements such as Vitamins B and D, natural blood thinners, probiotics, digestive aids, baby aspirin, and antibiotics.   

SHARON’S ADVICE

Lyme disease is incredibly hard to diagnose without the aid of a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD).  Sharon was tested for Lyme disease more than once, dating as far back as 2003, but only the ELISA test was performed.  The ELISA test is about 20%-30% accurate, depending upon the laboratory used.  It is imperative that your doctor write on the lab scrip for the lab to run the Western Blot IgL and IgM EVEN IF THE ELISA IS NEGATIVE and make sure you receive a copy of the results.  If ANY of the DNA bands are POS (Positive) or IND (Indefinite), you need to see a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD).  Many patients have been misdiagnosed even though some bands were positive, because the “right” bands were not positive.  As an example, Sharon’s first test showed one positive band, the second test showed three positive bands, and the third test showed five positive bands, but each time doctor insisted that she did not have Lyme disease.  With present state of the art testing procedures, the actual DNA sequences of where the Lyme resides can be isolated. 

If you are suffering with bizarre, changing symptoms, do not give up.  Trust your instincts, advocate for yourself, get multiple opinions, keep a copy of every test and medical record, and ask for help and support from loved ones.  Most importantly, make sure that you are properly tested and see an LLMD, even if you have to wait months to get an appointment. 

CONTACT SHARON

If you would like to talk to Sharon to get more information, share your Lyme story, or for any other related reason, she is more than happy to share a cup of coffee, emails, letters, or a phone call.  Please do not hesitate to contact her via phone at 702-929-2399 or via email at Sharon@myneighborsnetwork.com.  

AWARENESS

We sincerely hope that by sharing a synopsis of Sharon’s story you can see just how important it is to be aware of every aspect of Lyme disease.  Only when ignorance of Lyme disease no longer pervades the citizenry, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and the medical associations can we truly begin to properly diagnose, treat, and prevent Lyme disease efficiently.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding Lyme disease, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Mosquito Squad or to contact Sharon.  If you think you may have Lyme disease, we implore you to get tested properly by a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor.  You are not alone.  
 

LINKS

For more information on Lyme disease, please visit the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association.

For more information on Lyme Literate Medical Doctors, visit the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society

To read about Sharon’s ongoing battle with Lyme disease, read her poignant and moving blog, Living with Lyme

See our earlier blog post about Protecting Yourself From Tick Bites

Check out Damien’s post on the Rising Occurrence of Lyme disease.

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January 15, 2010

by: Damien Sanchez

I just called my represntive about HB 512 and I wanted to  make it as easy as possible for you to speak with your rep.  If you live in Virginia and you dont konw who your rep is, go to http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform to find out.  Call your rep today and tell them you support HB 512.

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