Virginia Senate Passes Landmark Lyme Disease Bill

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Virginia Senate Passes Landmark Lyme Disease Bill

NatCapLyme Urges the House of Delegates to Follow Suit

(McLean, VA) – February 11, 2016 – The National Capital Lyme Disease Association (NatCapLyme) today announced that the Virginia Senate passed landmark legislation relating to a patient’s right to treatment under guidelines listed in the National Guidelines Clearinghouse (the “NGC”).

Lyme can be tremendously debilitating, leading to loss of livelihood and even normal daily functioning. Lyme patients are desperate for treatment options. Increasingly, however, Virginia doctors are refusing new patients who present with the symptoms of Lyme or other tick-borne diseases.  Where it appears that a patient may require extended antibiotic treatment beyond the standard 28 days, many Virginia doctors believe that reporting and treating these cases can lead to sanctions from the Virginia Board of Medicine.

Understandably, physicians do not want to risk exposure to such sanctions, despite the fact that extended treatment is suggested under at least one NGC published guideline.  SB-671 provides that when a patient chooses to accept treatment in accordance with a clinical practice guideline maintained by the NGC, a health care provider will not be subject to health regulatory board investigations or hearings based solely on the decision to follow such clinical practice guideline.

The NGC is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans.  Housed in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, its mission is to provide health professionals with objective information on clinical practice guidelines and to further the dissemination and use of such guidelines.

The purpose of this legislation is simply to ensure that – when expert criteria published by the NGC have been sufficiently met – medical practice in accordance with that guideline should not, alone, lead to physician discipline.

“Lyme disease has reached epidemic proportions in Virginia,” says NatCapLyme Executive Director Monte Skall.  “Many Virginians with Lyme disease cannot get the medical assistance they need to adequately deal with the disease. We thank Senator Dick Black (R-13) for introducing this bill and shepherding it through the Senate.  Additionally, we are extremely grateful to Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17) for his support and compelling floor speech.  We also want to thank all the Virginia Lyme disease sufferers and their families for their support and assistance in bringing their stories to their senators to help get this bill passed.  Now, it’s on to the Virginia House of Delegates.  The job is not done!”

The National Capital Lyme Disease Association is an organization with over 3,000 members, including fifteen chapters throughout the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people suffering from Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses by offering support and disseminating information that educates and empowers patients, families, healthcare workers, and the community at large about these diseases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (the “CDC”) considers Lyme disease to be the fastest spreading tick-borne disease in the U.S. with an estimated 329,000 new cases each year.  Just this week, scientists discovered a second bacterium that causes Lyme disease, named Borrelia mayonii. The latest CDC statistics also report that Virginia is among the top-10 Lyme disease states.

Below is a record of yesterday’s Virginia Senate vote:

YEAS–Alexander, Black, Carrico, Chafin, Chase, Cosgrove, Dance, DeSteph, Edwards, Garrett, Hanger, Howell, Marsden, McPike, Newman, Obenshain, Reeves, Ruff, Stuart, Sturtevant, Surovell, Vogel, Wagner, Wexton–24.

NAYS–Barker, Deeds, Dunnavant, Ebbin, Favola, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, McDougle, McEachin, Miller, Norment, Petersen, Saslaw, Suetterlein–15.

NOT VOTING–Stanley–1.


For more information about Lyme disease or this bill, please contact Monte Skall at 703-821-8822 or visit the NatCapLyme website at,  Facebook and Twitter at NatCapLyme.

Help Us Fight The Bite

NatCap Lyme

 13500 NatCapLyme Logo Only White No Text  


Dear Friends:

As we begin a new year at NatCapLyme, I would like to thank our community as well as our friends around the country for their support during the past year, and wish them all health and happiness in 2016.  As a multi-purpose organization, our efforts are focused on helping people with tick-borne diseases through increased awareness, education, support, advocacy and research.

We are proud to share several of our accomplishments during the past year.  In 2015, NatCapLyme:

Research & Grants

  • Awarded a research grant to support the work of Dr. Kim Lewis at the College of Science at Northeastern University.  We were encouraged by Dr. Lewis’ research on a new antibiotic, effective for fighting the drug-tolerant persister cells in Lyme disease.
  • Awarded a grant to support the work of Dr. Ying Zhang from the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.  Dr. Zhang’s two-pronged research is aimed at identifying optimal drug combinations to eradicate Borrelia persisters and at developing an improved diagnostic test for more effective diagnosis of chronic and persistent Lyme disease. We believe that such research offers hope and encouragement for Lyme patients.

Education & Grants

  • Sponsored first-time attending physicians at the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society 2015 Scientific Conference “Lyme Disease Fundamentals Course” in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.   Physicians from around the country were awarded grants for their participation and returned to their communities better prepared to treat their patients.
  • At the same conference, our legal team conducted a session titled: “Doctor Self-Protection: Legal Safe-Proofing Your Medical Practice.”
  • Participated in the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign, educating federal employees from various agencies including 10 districts throughout Virginia and Maryland about Lyme-related diseases.  More than 25 educational programs on Lyme disease were presented in D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. This included the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Lyme Disease Forum, “Lyme Disease & Tick-Borne Illnesses: A Silent Pandemic” that featured discussions by experts on the physical, neurological, and educational impacts of Lyme disease.
  • Worked with county public health officials to bring about Lyme disease awareness, prevention, and treatment through special educational programs in the Virginia counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Loudoun, Giles and Fairfax, and in the Maryland counties of Anne Arundel and Hartford.
  • Produced and distributed a series of printed educational materials on tick-borne diseases addressing diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and tick identification for public use.  More than 250,000 pieces of literature were made available to the public in 2015.
  • Made the final payment, completing a grant for a Lyme Disease Prevention Education & Awareness K-12 Curriculum.  National distribution to school districts will begin in 2016.  Lyme topics are included in reading/English, language arts, math, science, social studies, and health lessons for each grade level, with supplemental handouts, research-aligned activities, and lessons that enhance the learning of Lyme-related skill sets.

Advocacy & Grants

  • We support other local and national advocacy organizations’ efforts to raise awareness about Lyme and tick-borne diseases.  We awarded a grant to the Mayday Project for their 2015 IDSA protest event in Rossyln, Virginia and actively participated in legislative education concerning tick-borne diseases by presenting a workshop primer on how Congress works and legislative advocacy to attendees.


  • Actively participated in legislative education concerning tick-borne diseases on both the federal and state levels.  Worked with other Lyme organizations to educate Senator Richard Blumenthal in designing his bill (S. 1503), encouraging him to keep Congress “focused” on Lyme related issues. Also, to assure transparency and balanced scientific viewpoints, we urged the Senator to conduct frequent and active oversight of the “Working Group” that is to be created by the legislation.

Community Service

  • Participated with Dry Home, Inc. for the largest 5K-10K Run for Lyme and tick-borne diseases in the country. At the conclusion of the run, over 700 people took the Lyme Challenge.
  • Actively maintained 18 support-group meetings in three states and the District of Columbia.  These meetings are an important aid in helping patients regain their health by providing life skills for dealing with daily challenges and illness-related social problems, as well as disability and insurance issues.
  • Reached out to minorities with new educational materials and counseling on Lyme and tick-borne diseases, including new Spanish-language brochures and printed materials.

We extend a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have contributed to the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association over the last year either with a financial donation, by volunteering, or by otherwise supporting our many activities and projects.  Help us build on the advances made in 2015.  Next year, we want to do even more!  The mission of our association can only be sustained by the support of dedicated people like you.

Donate today and make a difference.

Wishing you and your family good health in 2016!

Monte Skall
Executive Director


We are pleased to announce…..

 Susan Allen is confirmed to kick-off this year’s event.  Although she is and has been Governor George Allen’s biggest supporter and advocate, she herself is a life-long public servant and has a great love of the Commonwealth.  She continues to travel the state and experience the many people and activities that make Virginia a great place to live and work.
Mrs. Allen is an avid outdoors woman.  Growing up riding horses in Albemarle County and visiting her family’s cabin in Shenandoah, Susan was made acutely aware of the dangers of disease spread by ticks in Virginia.  Part of living a healthy lifestyle includes knowing as much as possible when it comes to preventing Lyme Disease and the Loudoun Lyme 5K/1M Event will help raise awareness and funds to do just that.  Susan Allen is proud to be part of this campaign to educate the public on the symptoms and cause of Lyme Disease.
Happy to also announce Susan Allen will be participating in the 1 Mile fun run event – look for her on the course and thank her for her support!

Loudoun supervisors initiate Lyme Disease awareness campaign

2012 is officially Lyme Disease Awareness Year in Loudoun County, the Board of Supervisors unanimously proclaimed Tuesday night.

Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), collaborating with colleagues Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), initated the awareness campagin, which includes a “10 Point Action Plan” to mitigate Lyme Disease in Loudoun County in “an effort to bring this health crisis to the forefront.”

According to Clarke, Higgins and Reid’s proposal, in 2011, there were 261 reported cases of Lyme Disease in Loudoun County. In 2010, 223 cases were reported, representing approximately 18 percent of the cases reported in Virginia that year.

The 10 points include:

1) Create a Lyme Disease Commission, appointed by the Board of Supervisors and made up of Loudoun citizens and health care professionals with an acute interest and expertise in Lyme disease prevention and education. This group will be charged with implementing the 10 Point Plan with the assistance of county staff as well as enlisting the help of citizens and organizations whose focus is already on Lyme disease.

2) Create a Lyme survey, as a follow up to the 2006 Lyme Disease in Loudoun County survey, to determine the current key risk factors for contracting Lyme disease as well as any other relevant statistics that will enable a better determination of where work and funding should be directed.

3) Add a high-profile link to the front page of the Loudoun County website that will direct viewers to the County’s web page which contains comprehensive information on Lyme disease prevention and treatment.

4) Develop a set of educational materials targeting different age groups, including elementary schools. Work with Loudoun County Public Schools to provide students with educational materials that can be disbursed through their health classes as well as consider sending out information on Lyme in children’s backpacks, as has previously been done.
Suggest having a contest for school-aged children to create a tag-line (for example, “It’s Time to Know about Lyme”) and a logo for this effort.

5) Organize a series of Lyme Education Forums within the County that include a panel of experts that can field questions from the public regarding Lyme, provide educational materials to the public as well as help facilitate the formation of Lyme support groups in underserved geographic areas of the county.

6) Work with the local newspapers to place a series of monthly articles concerning Lyme once a month for the first year, with quarterly articles thereafter. These articles would keep the public up-to-date with advances in prevention and treatment, inform citizens of new resources that are available to them, as well as publish a spraying schedule for public parks.

7) Establish a list of doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and provide this information on the County’s Lyme webpage in addition to any new educational materials.

8) Develop information for homeowners on the costs and benefits of spraying their yards for ticks.

9) Provide a Lyme education awareness briefing to all children enrolled in Parks and Recreation outdoor programs. There are approximately 10,000 children enrolled in these outdoor recreation camps.

10) Study the cost and feasibility of implementing two types of insecticide applications that will immediately begin to mitigate the spread of Lyme disease in Loudoun: spraying county-owned properties and licensing and placement of four-poster deer feeders on private and/or public property. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that broadcast spraying of areas of concern once a year, reduces the tick population by 65 percent.

10a) Spraying county-owned property: In addition to studying the cost and feasibility of spraying county-owned properties, immediately begin a pilot program that targets six western parks that have been identified and selected based upon their small to moderate sizes, geographic locations, and logistical ease of spraying. The suggested
parks are:

Franklin Park
Lucketts Community Park
Mickie Gordon Memorial Park
Nell Boone Park
Philip Bolen Memorial Park
Woodgrove Park

10b) Four poster deer feeders: Work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to study the feasibility of developing a county pilot program for the issuance of permits for the application of acaricides to deer via four-poster devices for the purpose of controlling the tick population and reducing the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease. This program has already been initiated by the Executive Director of DGIF as a follow-up from legislation introduced during the General Assembly session. The program should explore the cost, feasibility, and safety of placing four-post feeders on rural county owned property in addition to assisting private citizens in obtaining and legally gaining permits to safely locate them on their own property. The ‘4-Poster’ device is specifically designed to kill species of ticks that feed on white-tailed deer and especially those for which white-tailed deer are keystone hosts for adult ticks. As deer feed on the bait, the design of the device forces them to rub against pesticide-impregnated applicator rollers. The rollers, in turn, apply acaricides to their ears, heads, necks, and shoulders where roughly 90% of feeding adult ticks are attached. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricides to other parts of the body. Studies have shown that use of four-poster technology has resulted in the control of 92 of the 98% of free-living tick populations in areas around the devices after three years of use.

Loudoun launches campaign against Lyme disease

Loudoun launches campaign against Lyme disease
By Caitlin Gibson, Monday, March 26, 1:24 PM

Loudoun County is fighting back against the rising threat of Lyme disease.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to declare 2012 “Lyme Disease Awareness Year” in Loudoun. The supervisors also created a nine-member Lyme Disease Commission, made up of board-appointed county residents and health-care professionals, to focus on Lyme disease prevention and education efforts.

Leesburg resident Christina Guida was one of more than a dozen residents who spoke to the supervisors about the effects of Lyme disease at a public hearing before the vote. Guida, who said she has suffered from chronic Lyme disease for years, told the board that the illness has affected her life “physically, emotionally, financially.”

She described the psychological toll of the disease on patients.

“A lot of us live in fear, fear of just walking in grass, fear of owning a dog. I don’t go camping anymore. I don’t go hiking,” Guida said. “I see the numbers increasing around me. . . . I’m fearful for all residents in this county.”

Loudoun has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease infection in the United States, and the highest rate in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 250 confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in Loudoun last year, but the number of infections might be much higher, because many cases go unrecognized or misdiagnosed, county officials and medical experts said.

The first sign of infection, which is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted when people are bitten by an infected tick, is often a “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite. Some patients might also experience flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and muscle or joint pain in the weeks after infection. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment with
antibiotics, other chronic complications can eventually develop, including heart problems, co-infections, joint pain and nervous system disorders.

The illness is particularly prevalent in rural and suburban areas where rodents, deer and other animals are likely to transfer the parasites to people. Loudoun, with an abundance of parks and grassy areas neighbored by a growing number of residents, has become a prime spot for the disease.

At the public hearing Tuesday, a few speakers expressed concern about the environmental effects of methods used to kill infected ticks, including insecticide sprays and deer feeders that apply a pesticide to the ears, heads, necks and shoulders of deer as they feed. But the majority of residents who addressed the board were overwhelmingly in support of Loudoun’s proposed 10-point action plan to fight the spread of the disease.

David Stewart, a physician from Round Hill, said he was pleased to see the board addressing the issue. He also urged the supervisors to consider their actions carefully, particularly with important choices such as which insecticide to use.

“I support the proposal set forth; however, I urge you to be deliberate, transparent and inclusive of those of us who have been affected by Lyme,” he said.

Most of the items on the proposed action plan, which includes a number of Lyme disease prevention and education outreach initiatives, will first be reviewed by the county’s Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee. But supervisors did take immediate action on other aspects of the campaign: A link was placed prominently on the home page of the county Web site to direct visitors to information about Lyme disease, and the county will solicit bids to apply insecticide sprays at several county-owned parks to help reduce the tick population this spring.

According to the board’s direction, the cost of the spraying will not exceed $20,000. Spraying is planned for Franklin Park, Woodgrove Park, Lucketts Community Park, Ashburn Park, Conklin Park, Phil Bolen Park, Neil Boone Park, Mickie Gordon Memorial Park and Claude Moore Park.

Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), who co-sponsored the Lyme disease plan along with Vice Chairman Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) and Supervisor Kenneth “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg), said he found that Lyme disease was a critical issue for many voters during his campaign last year.

“Lyme was an issue that was spoken to me about as often as any other issue that we dealt with,” he said. “That’s how serious it is.”

Beyond the need to protect the health of Loudoun residents, Reid said, there could also be economic consequences if the county continues to be known as a hotbed for Lyme disease.

“If we don’t tackle this, we’re going to have people who are going to be afraid to come here,” he said. “This has been neglected for way too long.”

Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), the last to express his support for the plan before the board unanimously approved the motion, joked that he had been “jinxed” by the timing of the Lyme disease campaign: When he woke up Tuesday morning, he found he had been bitten by a tick, he said.

“Now that little area has a bull’s-eye to it,” he said. “So I’ll be supporting this.”

Information about Lyme disease can be found at www.loudoun.
gov/lyme and at

To learn about the second annual Loudoun Lyme 5K race, which will be May 6 at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, go to