As part of his ongoing effort to address the devastating impact of Lyme disease, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today announced that the annual spending bill that funds the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls for greater focus on the issue.
Wolf said report language accompanying the FY 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill approved in the House on December 15 and signed into law on December 17 encourages the CDC to:
- Expand its activities related to developing sensitive and more accurate diagnostic tools and tests for Lyme disease, including the evaluation of emerging diagnostic methods and improving utilization of diagnostic testing to account for the multiple clinical manifestations of acute and chronic Lyme disease;
- Expand its epidemiological research activities on tick-borne diseases to include an objective to determine the long-term course of illness for Lyme disease and to improve surveillance and reporting of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in order to produce more accurate data;
- Evaluate the feasibility of developing a national reporting system in Lyme disease, including laboratory reporting; and
- Expand prevention of Lyme and tick-borne diseases through increased community-based public education and creating a physician education program that includes the full spectrum of scientific research on the diseases.
Wolf, who pushed for the language in the bill, has long been an advocate for victims of Lyme disease. He has hosted forums in the 10th District to help educate area residents about the dangers of Lyme and how to protect themselves from tick bites. In addition, he encouraged Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to establish a Lyme disease task force to examine how Virginians can prevent and treat this illness. The panel held public hearings and meetings throughout the Commonwealth and unanimously reported its findings in June.
Earlier this year, Wolf joined with three of his House colleagues in introducing legislation requiring the secretary of Health and Human Services to create an advisory committee charged with advising federal agencies on priorities related to Lyme and tick-borne disease issues. The measure, H.R. 2557, builds on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine in a report issued in April, and is presently before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
â€œNorthern Virginia and Loudoun County, in particular, are at the center of a Lyme epidemic,â€ Wolf said. â€œI know how devastating this disease can be and will continue to push for a cure and raise awareness to help people from getting it in the first place.â€