NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 5, 2013

Our view: Taking the Lyme threat seriously

After a seemingly interminable February, March has arrived, bringing with it visions of spring and time spent in the blooming, blossoming outdoors. With those daydreams, of course, comes the threat of disease carried by New England’s wide array of hardy, voracious insects.

And if a new report from the state is correct, the spread of one of those diseases, Lyme disease, has been widely underreported, with one state legislator calling it a public health epidemic.

As many as 14,000 cases of Lyme disease are confirmed in Massachusetts each year, according to the state Department of Public Health. Officials, however, estimate the actual number of cases may be 10 times that number.

“We need to let people know how prevalent Lyme disease is in Massachusetts,” state Rep. David Linsky, part of a state legislative commission looking into the issue, told the Associated Press last week. “If you ask friends and ask your neighbors, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t been touched by this.”

The disease is spread to humans from tick bites. Symptoms of the disease in its early stages include the presence of a bull’s-eye pattern around the bite, a rash and flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, the disease can progress to include severe joint pain, fatigue and neurological problems.

It is important to catch the disease early, when treatment with antibiotics is most effective.

The commission made several recommendations aimed at fighting the spread of the disease, including spraying pesticides to control ticks. That could mean expanding the role of local mosquito control districts. Other suggestions include allowing for expanded crossbow hunting to help control the deer population that carries Lyme-transmitting ticks, and pumping up public information campaigns.

The commission also suggests requiring insurers to cover treatment of the disease.

Those measures, some of them with significant price tags attached, will surely be debated by legislators crafting next years’s budget. In the meantime, the report should at least force all of us to acknowledge how easy it is to come in contact with the ticks that carry the disease — and how easy it is to lessen that contact.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans