As Northern Virginians, many of us know first-hand the devastating effects of Lyme disease in our community. As we move into the summer, the potential for exposure to this debilitating disease increases. Statistics show that Virginia is a high incidence state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, infecting more than 300,000 people a year. I encourage you to learn how you can limit your exposure to ticks.
For information on how best to prevent contracting Lyme Disease, visit:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lyme Disease Prevention site
- The Virginia Department of Health’s Lyme Disease site
- The National Capital Lyme Disease Association Page
- Fairfax County Ticks and Lyme Disease Prevention Page
- Prince William County Ticks Site
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the painless bite of infected blacklegged ticks.
In 2011, I co-sponsored HJR 643, which designated May as “Lyme Disease Awareness Month” each year in Virginia. The designation has increased awareness as we continue to tackle the issue of Lyme disease.
Traditional antibody testing can be unreliable. The test can produce a false negative due to the fact many people have not developed the antibody response measured by the test in the initial four to six week period after exposure. To better protect Virginians, I co-sponsored HB 1933, the Lyme Disease Testing Information Disclosure Act of 2013, requiring health care providers to notify anyone tested for Lyme of the risk of false negatives.
In 2015, I supported the two-year funding for a ground-breaking new Lyme disease test developed by George Mason University (GMU). GMU’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) received $250,000 to accelerate the rollout of the Nanotrap® based Lyme Antigen Test.
The Nanotrap® test is a urine-based Lyme Antigen test that provides the most sensitive detection of Lyme at every stage of the disease.
This test is currently being offered at two Northern Virginia clinics:
Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis. The CDC recommends you seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease is common.