During the 81st Regular Legislative Session, I was approached by some constituents. They educated me about their personal struggle with Lyme Disease. They told me about how their children or loved ones had been afflicted by this terrible disease. Some of you may be aware of Lyme Disease and some of you may not. Lyme Disease can be contracted by individuals through the bite of an infected flea or tick. Sometimes the effects do not show up until years later. Unfortunately, the results of Lyme Disease can be debilitating, as well as mentally and physically harmful.
The stories about the effects of Lyme Disease struck a chord with me, especially when I learned about my friends’ children who are now adults and the tremendous problems that some of them have had to endure because of this disease. It bothered me greatly to know that Texans are being hurt by such a disease. During the 82nd Regular Legislative Session, I authored and passed House Bill (HB) 2975. HB 2975 will take effect this week on September 1, 2011. HB 2975 establishes continuing education in the treatment of tick-borne illness, to include Lyme Disease, for doctors and nurses. By establishing continuing education in the treatment of tick-borne illnesses, doctors and nurses will have a better foundation and be better educated in the recognition and treatment of Lyme Disease in the State of Texas.
Lyme Disease is known as the “new great imitator” because it often mimics other disorders. It can cause skin rashes, severe fatigue, excruciating headaches, muscle and joint pain. If not properly treated, the disease can advance to the chronic stage and continue indefinitely and become more difficult to eradicate the longer the infection persists. It is important to catch the disease as early as possible. It is also important to note that people of all ages are susceptible to the disease. Children in the age range of four to fifteen years have a higher rate of exposure.
Since the issue was first brought to my attention in 2009, I have continued to discover a growing urgency surrounding this disease that has affected many Texans whose efforts to seek appropriate medical care have faced hurdles due to the lack of knowledge existing on Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Also, recommended treatments of Lyme Disease vary from different groups. This has resulted in many health care professionals choosing not to treat the disease at all. I was shocked to hear stories about families who have travelled as far as New York City and San Francisco to find doctors in order to treat loved ones suffering from Lyme disease. With the passage of HB 2975, Texans with this disease can hopefully start finding proper treatment in the State of Texas from doctors who will gain the knowledge and experience to treat this debilitating disease.
If any of you reading this article have friends or family members that are afflicted by this disease, and you want to be kept posted on developments regarding Lyme Disease, please do not hesitate to call my offices. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).