Lyme disease initiatives urged by Smith get House approval
Eights years in the making, legislation would foster national effort to fight Lyme Disease
The Asbury Park Press reports on legislation by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith to wage war on ravages of Lyme disease.
Key components of a proposed federal Lyme disease education and prevention law authored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., were incorporated into a larger appropriations bill dealing with labor, education and public health that was approved by the House, Smith's office announced Friday.
"Lyme disease research and treatment has been fragmented and neglected for years," Smith said in a prepared statement. "These provisions constitute a robust, national effort to step up the fight against an ever-growing threat."
Provisions incorporated from the Smith bill into the Labor HHS-Education Appropriations bill encourage the CDC to:
Expand federal efforts to develop more accurate diagnostic tools and tests for Lyme disease, including the evaluation of emerging diagnostic tools and tests.
Widen epidemiological research on tick-borne diseases and set the goal of determining the long-term course of illness for Lyme disease.
Improve surveillance and reporting of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in order to accumulate more accurate data on their prevalence.
Evaluate the feasibility of developing a national reporting system on Lyme disease, including laboratory reporting.
Expand prevention of Lyme and other 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. With regard to the National Institutes of Health, the bill passed Friday also incorporates Smith's provisions calling the NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to intensify research on understanding the full range of Lyme disease processes and to conduct a scientific conference on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, which would provide a forum to foster public participation and input from Lyme disease patients.
Another provision, similar to one in the original Smith bill, directs the Secretary of HHS to review the coordination of activities across CDC, NIH, and other agency components to ensure a broad spectrum of scientific viewpoints is represented in public health policy and to report back to Congress by Sept. 30, 2010.
The bill would increase the Center for Disease Control's budget for Lyme disease by $3.66 million from $5.27 million to $8.93 million.