HARRISBURG – Funding to prevent the spread of Lyme disease was a key part of the 2018-2019 state spending plan approved last week by Pennsylvania lawmakers, according to Senator Richard Alloway (R-33).
The $2.5 million line item will support awareness, prevention and surveillance associated with the tickborne illness.
“Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease cases, so it was important as a legislature to do our part in combating this devastating illness that has adversely impacted thousands of Commonwealth residents,” said Alloway.
Overall, the funding aims to carry out some of the recent recommendations of a Lyme disease task force.
According to the Department of Health, the funding will be used to hire staff to implement the task force’s 18 recommendations; enhance and build a more robust Lyme disease prevention and education program; conduct statewide environmental surveys; and improve participation in tickborne disease surveillance with providers and local health departments.
The most recent tick surveillance study, conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, found the presence of Lyme in ticks in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Common symptoms include fever, chills, joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fatigue and rashes. Antibiotics help with recovery, but when untreated, the infection can lead to arthritis and other severe problems.
“The initiatives are critical to address the increasing rates of Lyme disease and start reversing the trend,” said Alloway. “I look forward to working with the Department of Health as this new program moves forward, for the betterment of all Pennsylvanians.”
The state legislature recently adopted a $32.7 billion spending plan for 2018-2019 that increases spending by just 1.7 percent and does not include a tax hike. Highlights include the Lyme disease funding and school safety initiatives, as well as increases to education. Funding to agriculture was also restored.
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